Have You Written Your Legacy Letter Yet?

“My friends, love is better than anger.
Hope is better than fear.
Optimism is better than despair.
So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.
And we’ll change the world.”

~ Jack Layton, (1950-2011)  MP and  Leader of the Official Opposition, Canada

These were the inspirational closing words of a farewell letter to Canadians written by Jack Layton  days before he died on August 22nd.

While  not known widely outside his native land, Layton held a special place of affection and admiration for Canadians. This could be seen in the unprecedented outpouring of sorrow during a week that culminated in his state funeral on August 27th in Toronto.

Globe and Mail columnist Sandra Martin in her article Why a farewell letter can comfort and inspire wrote:

Jack Layton wasn’t the first person to send a public deathbed letter to friends, colleagues and supporters and he won’t be the last…Memories fade or become altered with time, but a letter is a literary document that retains its original text and ensures that your words– rather than somebody else’s interpretation of them–are passed on…Writing a farewell letter, even in conjunction with others, forces you to think deeply and hard about the message you want to send and how you to express it… For mourners, the letter can become a talisman. You can carry it in your pocket, consult it when grief wallops you, and reread it like a gospel to help you make decisions in keeping with the deceased’s wishes.

Reading Martin’s article, I was reminded of the value of these “legacy” letters. Even if we’re not dying, a  legacy letter, sometimes called an ethical will, can be a source of comfort for  those who will one day be left behind. I’ve written about ethical wills in a previous article What Do Sidney Poitier and Ethical Wills Have In Common?

For those of you interested in writing your own or in teaching others to write an ethical will,  check out my free Ethical Will Course here.

Have you written your legacy letter yet?

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