Leaving A Legacy: How to Capture Stories and Memories

Leaving A Legacy: How to Capture Stories and Memories
3 minute read

It’s difficult to remember everything about our loved ones, no matter how hard we try and there’s certainly not much that makes saying goodbye any easier. Despite this, there may be ways to make losing a loved one more connective and supportive for those left grieving and to ensure stories and memories live on long after the death of someone we love.

One such way is to leave a ‘last letter’ or to capture stories and memories, which can even be done well before our final days and when we’re healthy. It may feel morbid or difficult to process and it’s often also the time when we’re able to put pen to paper, or voice to a recording and share what’s on our heart before it’s too late.

We suggest keeping your end-of-life care wishes (advanced care planning: which you can learn more about this in a previous blog post here andhere) separate from these ‘goodbye letters,’ though as with anything, it’s completely up to what might work best.

While we’re often unable to control when we die, we can create our own emotional advanced directive and make sure those we love have something to hold onto after we’re gone.

What To Include In Your Letter

If applicable:

  • Write about how you feel about your significant other
  • Write about your feelings for your children and make sure the letter is shared with them
  • Share what your life has meant to you
  • Cover the really important stuff, the stuff that matters most
  • It’s okay to have this letter be a long one or a short one, or a drawing or something else altogether, whatever is best for you

Services That Capture Stories, Memories & Letters

Saga
Steps include:

  • Add your family to your private group
  • Choose questions you want to hear about, like “What was the biggest trouble you got into as a kid?” You can choose from our recommended questions, or write your own
  • You and your family record answers in your own voices, either with or without the app. Saga is easy for anyone to use—record by dialing a special phone number, even without a smartphone or the app
  • Recordings are saved and shared privately with your family. It’s like getting your own personal family podcast of Grandma’s childhood stories.

No Story Lost
Steps include:

  • You purchase whichever package suits you best. If you have questions, get in touch
  • You’ll get an email as soon as you complete your purchase
  • Book an onboarding call (what types of stories you want your storyteller to talk about, what you’d want to know more about and any sensitive topics we should not ask about. And hear more about the end-to-end process in more detail)
  • Tell your Storyteller about it. You might be nervous. They might be apprehensive, but we’ve got some advice to give from experience (see FAQs)
  • Set-up the interviews with the Storyteller
  • Meanwhile, send us photos for the book
  • When it’s complete you’ll receive the final manuscript & copy
  • You look over it. You can make adjustments and edits
  • Then, the finished product will be delivered to your doorstep

My Lasting Letters
How the process works:

  • Start with an email to Frish (who runs the service). You only need to know that you wish to write a letter—not necessarily who you are writing to or what you wish to say. She says: “we’ll find your words together”
  • Arrange a time to connect and talk
  • Typically, the first letter-writing conversation will take 60-90 minutes: Frish will ask questions, you’ll chat, and the letter will start to take shape. Frish will then share a draft of the letter, you’ll refine it together and continue until you’ve got the right words and thoughts that make the letter uniquely and truly yours.

There’s no right way to do this and there are no rules and no matter what, it will always feel like it’s too soon.

As this article states, “[o]nly one third of Americans have completed even a basic advance healthcare directive—the document that asks you to elect a health care agent who can speak for you if you end up in the hospital and can’t speak for yourself,” let alone capturing stories, memories or letters. What’s more, you “don’t have to pull your When I Die file [which includes your stories, memories or letters] together overnight. Maybe focus on one item per month for the next year. Gathering a whole death file together will make you a highly advanced American and a family hero.”

While this may all seem like a very difficult thing (and it is), the point of all of it is to make a difficult thing like dying or loving someone who is dying less difficult—Think of it as an act of love. “It will always be too soon to tell your story and let people know how much they mean to you, until it is too late.”

We’re here to support you and want to ensure a better death becomes integral to a good life. To learn more and access additional resources visit www.eirene.ca.