How to write a legacy letter
“Your legacy is every life you have ever touched.” Maya Angelou
We have all touched the lives of others, and in so doing, we become part of their personal story and they become part of our story. The way we choose to live upon this earth and the quality of our personal interactions all become part of the legacy we leave. Much of the time we may not consider the impact we have, but there are other times that we choose our path mindfully. One way to thoughtfully consider the legacy we want to leave for our loved ones is to write a legacy letter.
A legacy letter is a description of our most treasured moments, our hopes and dreams, or the wisdom we have gained over the years. We can express our love to those closest to us and tell them what matters to us.
A legacy letter can also help us to find meaning in our lives now. Writing a legacy letter can show us our most important values, shine a light on dreams we have not yet realised, and help us to re-evaluate our lives. It can spur us on to chase our deepest desires, and to live bigger than we had previously imagined.
Writing a legacy letter can also provide a person with peace during their final months or days. Creating meaning at the end of life has an immense impact on improving people’s experience of dying.
A legacy letter captures our thoughts about how we have lived and what we have learned.
A legacy letter is not a tally of what we have achieved, or a list of facts about us. It is a place where we can reflect on our most treasured moments, hopes, dreams, and the things most important to us. It is about our thoughts, reactions, and feelings. Our loved ones want to know how we have responded to adverse circumstances, how we have met and successfully conquered a challenge, what obstacles we have had to overcome in our lives, or what our joys and sorrows have been. They are interested in our dreams, and whether we have realised them. They want to know what our life philosophy is, and how it has guided our decisions.
You can write your life legacy letter in these simple steps.
- Pick a time when you can relax without distractions. If you have to, schedule an appointment in your diary; that way you won’t plan anything else.
- Imagine you are writing a letter to someone you love but instead of telling them what you have been doing, tell them about your dreams, passion, and what you have learned from your life.
- Choose three themes that you want to write about. Themes might be: treasured moments; finding happiness; overcoming adversity; hopes and dreams; attaining goals; personal philosophy; values; life lessons; the things you know for sure; your thoughts on social issues; love; dealing with setbacks; creating a meaningful life; life as an adventure; living in poverty; and so much more.
- Write your letter and expand on your thoughts until you have said everything you want to say. Your letter could be one page or several pages.
- Put your letter aside for a day or two. Re-evaluate what you have written. Does it say what you want it to say? Revise the letter until you feel happy with it.
- Copy your letter out long-hand using an archival pen on archival paper.
What would you say if you had only one more conversation before the end of your life? Start writing your legacy letter today.
Would you like more ideas on how to get started and what to include in your legacy letter, along with exercises to discover meaning in your life?
Visit our free resources page, and download the PDF: Legacy letters: Messages of hope, love, and life.