Article by Jeff Anderson, A Place For Mom
“As we mature, it’s natural to consider our own mortality and whether our legacy is embodied in the hearts and minds of loved ones. Most of us will be satisfied just to pass on our most cherished memories, but taking the time to preserve your living legacy can improve your life and that of your family’s for years to come.
How to Preserve Your Living Legacy
Working on your family’s living legacy will not only provide your loved ones with a precious, tangible attachment to you after you are gone, but will also improve your level of happiness, life satisfaction and psychological well being.
Read our top six tips for preserving your living legacy:
1. Collect Family Recipes
Food is much more than our body’s fuel; it is an integral part of culture that unites families and transcends generations. Many families strengthen their bond and maintain their identity by passing on recipes from generation to generation. For example, my own family collected all of my grandmother’s recipes, transcribed them and had several books printed for her children and grandchildren to keep and remember her by. A recipe book can be one of the most profound ways to leave an emotional legacy because scent is the sense most closely linked to emotion and memory. The simple smell of cookies baked using Grandmother’s special recipe can bring her to life in our mind’s eye.
2. Make an Audio or Video Recording
Audio or video recordings can be a powerful tool to help families remember their loved ones. You can get started with just a tape recorder or video camera. In Joan Lunden’s book for caregivers, she recommends using recordings, suggesting that families prepare a long list of interview questions. “This kind of video recording of your family history is priceless,” she says. For inspiration, you might explore the audio recordings of the StoryCorps Memory Initiative or the video interviews of Cornell University’s Legacy Project. For those who need help putting together these recordings, a number of services can help including businesses like Family Legacy Video that can produce a video for you. Seniors who are wary of being videotaped may prefer the audio format.
3. Make a Family Tree
The process of making a family tree gives you and your family an opportunity to reminisce about loved ones and tell stories together. Include photos where possible to help bring the tree to life. When it’s completed, you can share copies of this unique keepsake with all your family members. Dr. Jeannette Franks even suggests that families include their loved ones’ medical histories to help their younger relatives know what health issues they should be on guard against. While it may strike some as morbid, she advises families to note the relative’s cause of death on the family tree.”