Legacy activities are a way for families to share special moments together when someone in the family has an advanced illness.

These activities can provide an opportunity to reflect on the events and people that have made an impact on your or your loved one’s life and can be a powerful coping tool for those who are ill as well as their family and friends.

Below is a list of legacy activities that families can do together:

  • Create a scrapbook with pictures/keepsakes related to a particular time in your life, a loved one, a favorite vacation or celebration
  • Create a photo album of favourite photos with accompanying captions
  • Compile a binder of favourite recipes
  • Compile a collection of favourite songs or hymns
  • Create a quilt made out of your favorite T-shirts or other fabric items
  • Handprints of you and/or your loved ones in plaster
  • Write cards or purchase gifts for a future birthday, holiday or special occasion
  • Write a poem or a song created specifically for your loved one(s)
  • Plant a tree
  • Ethical Wills – write a letter to your family that shares your personal/family values, beliefs, spiritual values, accomplishments, hopes/wishes, life lessons, forgiveness etc.

If you would like assistance from a volunteer to help you complete a legacy activity, please contact Hospice of Waterloo Region at 519-743-4114.

Resources to Guide You as you Create an Ethical Will or Legacy Message:

Adams, Gemini. Your Legacy of Love

Ashe, Arthur and Arnold Rampersad. Days of Grace: A Memoir

Baines, Barry. Ethical Wills: Putting Your Values on Paper.

Blachman, Linda. Another Morning: Voices of Truth and Hope from Mothers with Cancer

Byock, Ira. The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book About Living

Callanan, Maggie and Patricia Kelley. Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying (two hospice nurses provide “a gentle way to think about the unthinkable” and “how to recognize, understand, and respond to a dying person’s messages”)

Cebuhar, Jo Kline. So Grows the Tree: Creating an Ethical Will

Edelman, Marian Wright. The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours

Frankl, Viktor E. Man’s search for meaning

Freed, Rachael. Women’s Lives, Women’s Legacies: Passing Your Beliefs & Blessings to Future Generations; The Heartmates Journal: A Companion for Partners of People with Serious Illness; The Women’s Legacies Workbook for the Busy Woman 

Geary, Marilyn L. and Jacqueline Janssen. LeaveLight: A Motivational Guide to Holistic End-of-Life Planning

Gottlieb, Daniel. Letters to Sam: A Grandfather’s Lessons on Love, Loss, and the Gifts of Life

McCord, Bill. The Gift of You: How to Tell Your Loved Ones Who You Really Are

Nerburn, Kent. Letters to My Son: A Father’s Wisdom on Manhood, Life, and Love ; Simple Truths: Clear and Gentle Guidance on the Big Issues in Life

Padgett, Ann. What now?

Phifer, Nan. Memoirs of the Soul: Writing Your Spiritual Autobiography

Pillemere, Karl, ed. 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans

Poitier, Sidney. Life Beyond Measure: Letters to My Great-Granddaughter.

Riemer, Rabbi Jack and Nathaniel Stampfer. So That Your Values Will Live On: Ethical Wills and How to Prepare Them.

Strassfield, Sharon. Everything I Know: Basic Life Rules From A Jewish Mother

Turnbull, Susan. The Wealth of Your Life; A Step-by-Step Guide for Creating Your Ethical Will

Need more information?

Sometimes, starting the process of legacy work can seem daunting or a little overwhelming.  Here are some resources that might help guide you: