Hospice Quinte: Changing Lives Podcast

Creating a Legacy Project

October 18, 2021 Hospice Quinte Season 4 Episode 31
Hospice Quinte: Changing Lives Podcast
Creating a Legacy Project
Show Notes Transcript

When you find out someone close to you is dying, it can be a little overwhelming.  Once you have had some time to process the news you may be lucky enough to have some time to plan making memories with your loved one by putting together a legacy project.  Legacy projects are projects or activities you do to honour the life of your loved one.  In this week's Changing Lives Podcast we offer some tips and ideas for creating a legacy project.

About Hospice Quinte
Hospice Quinte provides individuals, their families, and caregivers with compassionate end of life care, by attending to their physical, psychosocial, and practical needs, and offering empathetic care to those who are grieving through visiting hospice services and support groups.  All Hospice Quinte programs and services are provided by compassionate, well-trained volunteers and staff at no charge to the individual or their family.  

Hospice Quinte serves a population of over 102,000 in Quinte West, Belleville, Deseronto, Tyendinaga Township and the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. To find out more visit HospiceQuinte.ca.

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When you find out someone close to you is dying, it can be a little overwhelming.  Once you have had some time to process the news you may be lucky enough to have some time to plan making memories with your loved one by putting together a legacy project.

Legacy projects are projects or activities you do to honour the life of your loved one.  Creating a legacy project is often done to both understand someone’s life as well as ensure their memory lives on.  Although the word project can sound daunting, a legacy project is simply what you choose to make it.  Whether the legacy project is complex or simple, it offers everyone involved a chance to spend some meaningful time together creating memories at the end of a loved one’s life.

When thinking about a legacy project, define what your goals are, and how much effort and energy you want to put into it.  Some people choose to become advocates or work to change laws that have tangible impacts on so many.  People may choose to do this in honour of a friend or loved one who was impacted by a specific disease or cause.  A fundraiser for cancer awareness or research is one example, or lobbying for victims’ rights is another.  Alternatively, planting a garden or tree in remembrance of your loved one is another way to capture the memory of the person you love.  There is no real structure, and best of all the outcome is never wrong.

Legacy work can be especially beneficial when you hope to learn more about your loved one.  Creating a photo album while asking questions is a perfect way to connect, learn, and empower both you and the speaker.   Spending time with someone can be such a gift and showing empathy and interest in someone’s life is often seen as an honour.  Ask all the questions you always meant to.  Find out about their childhood, hopes and dreams, wishes and regrets, loves and losses.  All of this information can give you insight and perspective, while making your friend or loved one feel special.  

Often grieving children are encouraged to participate in a legacy task.  Part of the grief process is to find meaning in the life and death of the person, and making meaning from an experience like a death can encourage healing.   A common practice for children is asking them to write a message or draw a picture and put them in a balloon.  Having a ceremony in which the balloon is released and sending their message into the sky may be a comfort.  There can be a release of guilt, anger, and fear by doing this, allowing the child to feel involved in their grief with a sense of control and autonomy.  Anthropologist Margaret Mead said that “connections between generations are essential for the mental health and stability of nations.  In times of transformation, the young look toward the old, and the old look toward the young”.  The core of this thinking is that generations learn together and can connect the dots in meaningful ways. 

There are many options when thinking of creating a legacy project.  You could make a collection of favourite, or famous recipes of your loved one to share with family and friends.  For those who have sewing skills you might create a quilt with pieces of saved baby blankets, favourite t shirts, important fabrics or special clothing items in honour of your loved one.  
Technology can be a real help in creating a legacy project.  Most smart phones can easily record video – so make some home movies.  Record funny stories, hold a “Q and A” session, or record collection of stories to create a keepsake video diary that can be shared for years to come.  An autobiography or ethical will is a great way to get ideas and stories onto paper, to transmit values, experiences, and life lessons.  This can be as informal or formal as you want.  Again, there are no rules.  Whatever you choose to do, it should have meaning to you and be personal and unique. 

Hospice Quinte’s in-home visiting volunteers can help those in the last months of their life work on a legacy project that can be shared with their family and friends before, or after, their death.  If you, or someone you know, has received a terminal diagnosis and is in the last year of their life, Hospice Quinte can help by providing a volunteer to visit weekly to provide companionship and caregiver respite.  Call us or visit our website to find out more. 

Hospice Quinte provides individuals, their families, and caregivers with compassionate end of life care, by attending to their physical, psychosocial, and practical needs, and offering empathetic care to those who are grieving through visiting hospice services and support groups.  All Hospice Quinte programs and services are provided by compassionate, well-trained volunteers and staff at no charge to the individual or their family.  We serve a population of over 102,000 in Quinte West, Belleville, Deseronto, Tyendinaga Township and the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.