The concept of a legacy letter has existed for over 3,500 years. It is a letter or document, lovingly written to record your own personal stories as well as family stories to pass on to others. These stories create a platform on which to explain your values and life lessons. Writing a legacy letter provides you with the means to preserve personal stories, family history, and wisdom gained throughout your lifetime.
Who to Write a Legacy Letter To
The list is endless as to possible recipients for a legacy letter but here are a few:
- Spouse or significant other,
- Future generations,
- Extended family,
- Work colleagues, and
When to Write a Legacy Letter
A legacy letter can be written on many different occasions, such as:
- When you are nearing the end of your life,
- Writing to your yet-to-be-born child,
- Writing to your newborn child,
- When a loved one is graduating from high school or university,
- When a loved one is preparing to be married, or
- When a loved one has suffered a great loss.
Things to Include in a Legacy Letter
A legacy letter is very personal and unique. The content depends on you and your personality, who the letter is being written to, and what message you want to pass along. Some ideas to consider when sitting down to write a legacy letter include:
- What would you like your loved one to know about you?
- What are your hopes for your loved one?
- What impact has your loved one had on your life?
- What lessons did you learn from your parents that you would like to share?
- Which experiences had the greatest effect on you and why?
- How did life’s difficulties enable you to grow and become a stronger person?
- What are your core values and beliefs that you would like to share?
- How did those core values and beliefs affect the choices you made and how you reacted to life’s difficulties and celebrations?
- Which individuals have had the greatest impact on your life and what did you learn from each of them?
- How would you like your loved to remember you after you have passed away?
Possible Model for a Legacy Letter
Although a legacy letter is a deeply personal letter, it is sometimes hard to get started. That blank page just sits and stares at you. Here is a possible outline for a legacy letter to help you get started.
Provide the context as to where, when, and why you’re writing the letter. Provide personal, family, and even some cultural history of the current time period.
Tell your story or your own experience. It does not have to be elaborate, just be yourself. Let your personality come through in the telling of your story.
Explain what your learned from your experience, what influence it had on your life. Be honest and forthcoming regarding how you dealt with your experience, imperfections, and all. Why does this experience stand out from all the others? What lifelong effect did it have on your life and what wisdom do you want to share with your loved one, in the hopes that it will help them through his or her own life journey.
At this point, express your love for loved one. Let them know how much you love them and the impact they’ve had on your life. Think of this as the last opportunity you may ever have to let your loved one truly know just what they mean to you and how deeply you care for them.
When to Pass on the Legacy Letter
There is no right or wrong time to pass along the legacy letter. Here are some possible ideas:
- Right away,
- When your child turns 18,
- The evening before your child’s wedding,
- An anniversary celebration,
- A birthday celebration,
- When you know when you are dying,
- After you have passed away.
Do not procrastinate in writing your legacy letters. No one knows what the day holds, or when your last opportunity to speak with your loved one will be. Sit down now and put that pen to paper.