There’s a saying about dying twice. You first die when your heart stops working. And the second death happens the last time someone says your name. Leaving an impactful legacy may make the latter an event that never occurs!
We all want to be remembered. Especially for the things we are passionate about, our work ethic, and character. It’s no wonder folks have been looking for an opportunity to leave a legacy for centuries.
When we say legacy, we don’t only mean the money you leave behind. Although your beneficiaries would likely be grateful for a legacy fund. Leaving a legacy can come in many different forms. The earlier you start, the more you can influence the legacy you leave behind.
From leaving a legacy for your family or community, to sharing your story, or making your last act on earth a legacy, there are many opportunities to be remembered.
What does leaving an impactful legacy mean?
A person’s legacy is the memory someone leaves behind in others. It’s the impact that remains long after you’re gone. Sometimes legacies include property, funds, family businesses, gifts, an intentional death care choice, heirlooms, photos, stories, traditions, and more.
There’s no wrong way to leave a legacy. What matters is you leave a lasting impact that matters to you.
How to Leave an Impactful Legacy
If you don’t know where to start when it comes to leaving a legacy, there are two important things to consider.
- What’s important to you?
- What’s important to the people you’re leaving something behind to?
Start with considering what people would say if you died today. How would you be remembered if you didn’t wake up tomorrow? Note all the ways you’re already going to leave a legacy, you might be surprised just how much you have to give!
If you don’t like the story people might tell, then start brainstorming ways to change the messaging.
Leaving a legacy is a proactive act, not a reactive one. It’s never too soon to start creating your legacy. And you don’t have to create a legacy alone! You can always recruit a family member or friend to help.
If you need help with your death care planning to leave a lasting legacy, we can help, too!
Still having a hard time deciding what you want your legacy to be? You can try writing your life story.
Leaving Your Legacy in a Story
Our stories are one of the most powerful legacies we can leave behind. And there are lots of great ways to do it.
You can use a legacy journal. This allows you to write down your life story so it can be passed down for generations.
And, if you’ve journaled during other times in your life, include the journal entries you’re comfortable sharing with others!
You can also create a digital legacy journal. If writing isn’t your thing, don’t worry, there are other options. Instead, consider recording yourself either on your phone or computer. It could be even more powerful to see your face and hear your voice when it comes to telling your life story.
Include what it’s like to be alive in the past and now. Think about your contributions in life to your family, community, town, state, and country. This is information family members may be proud to know, share, and hold on to.
If you’re having a hard time telling your story on your own, you can enlist a friend or family member to help you. Or, you could even invest in having a professional help you tell your story.
Leaving an Impactful Legacy for Your Family
One of the best things you can do is engage your family in the legacy process. This can help ensure you don’t ruffle any feathers, or upset your family members by giving away things they wanted.
What are some things they would cherish? What holds special significance to them? Try and come up with lasting gifts for your legacy.
This could include your financial assets, like a lake house your daughter wants to ensure stays in the family. Or, it could include things around your home, like a grandfather clock your niece has always loved.
It’s also not too late to come up with new family traditions to leave as a legacy. Whether it’s taking a boat out on Labor Day and having a picnic, a new Christmas tradition to help everyone stay present, or a special meal on 4th of July, traditions are a great way to leave a legacy.
Last, you can also curate your family’s history to leave a written or digital record behind. It’s special to remind your family members where you come from. You never know what you’ll find while outlining your family history, too!
Leaving an Impactful Legacy for Your Community
Not all of us have family members to leave things to. If you don’t have kids, don’t have a lot of remaining family, or are estranged from your family, you can always leave a legacy in your community.
If you want to share your life lessons with a younger generation, you can volunteer to support kids in your community. Seek out a group like the Boys and Girls Club, or sign up to coach youth sports. Your legacy is likely to live on in the hearts of the kids you connect with during your volunteering hours.
If kids aren’t your thing, you can volunteer at a community garden, library, museum, foundation, or hospital. Spending time with your community can leave a legacy in your volunteer hours. And, it feels good to give back to the community made a big impact on your life.
Last, if you get the chance, you can record your story with NPR’s StoryCorps. This will memorialize and share your story with generations of listeners to come.
Leaving an Impactful Legacy with Your Death Care Choice
If sustainability is something you value, consider making a sustainable death care plan. The most sustainable death care option is terramation, or human composting.
Unfortunately, cremation and traditional burials leave a negative impact on the planet when they take place.
Burials are the most cost intensive and least sustainable death care option. The cemetery industry uses 20 million feet of wood, 4.3 million gallons of embalming fluid, and 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete.
While cremation is more affordable than traditional burials, each cremation needs 30 gallons of fuel. Then, during the cremation process, 540 lbs of CO2 is released into the atmosphere.
Terramation, on the other hand, is a gentle and affordable death care option that turns your body into compost. Your family members can then use the compost created. Some folks will create memorial gardens or plant trees in the compost.
Or, Return Home patrons have the option to donate the compost to an eight acre woodland area to revitalize local flora.
You can find out if terramation is legal in your state here.
Leaving an Impactful Legacy is Proactive, Not Reactive
Death is your story’s dramatic ending. When the time comes, what will your legacy look like? Will your death care plan be a part of it?
As we said earlier, leaving an impactful legacy is a proactive act, not a reactive one. It’s never too soon to start making your legacy plan.
If you’re ready to start the conversation about your death care options, reach out. We’re here to help, and to ensure you leave a legacy where people remember how you left the planet better than you found it.