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Seasons Hospice: Helping Families Leave a Legacy

When we think about the word “Legacy,” we typically think in terms of large gifts or of memorable and famous individuals who have left a lasting impact on society. Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care recently rolled out the “Seasons Remembered: Leaving a Legacy Program”. This innovative program involves our team members helping our patients capture their “Legacy,” leaving their message and memory for ongoing generations to share.

Some Legacy projects are larger than others, but all undoubtedly leave their mark not only for those receiving the created memory, but also for the patient, staff and volunteers who help complete the work. Projects have ranged from helping our patients record their favorite memories and stories via hand-written messages or recordings, to creating a timeline of a patient’s favorite music or capturing them singing a favorite song with one of our music therapists.

A recent project involved working to compile what might have been a bestselling cookbook, but instead is the multitude of recipes from the family matriarch and some of the captured tales that went along with them; it was then bound and copied for each of her children.

Often times, Legacy projects can be bittersweet and difficult for a young hospice parent to complete. But when our staff realizes that by gently nudging a mom to record her voice on a story book for her small children or assisting a father to write out cards for future events in his daughter’s life where he won’t be present, the end result is always seen as a cherished blessing that all are grateful for. The uncomfortable feelings of staff soon fade as we often have the privilege of seeing the power of these projects carry on long after our patients are gone.

There is no value that can be placed on one person’s legacy over another. Compare a piece from a famous art collection and a picture that was finger painted by a pediatric hospice patient; both are priceless and certainly irreplaceable, the latter being a one of a kind masterpiece to that child’s parents. While a Legacy is often thought of when someone is at the end of life, it really should be a project for the living.

Consider your own legacy or perhaps, the legacy your parents or grandparents left you. How do you want your children, grandchildren, family and friends to remember you? Will it be the company you built from the ground up and have it successfully passed on or, might it be that you are a talented artist or photographer and have a collection of creative pieces that many will enjoy?

If you are wondering how you might get started, take a piece of paper. Trace your hand, and on each finger, write a life message or lesson you would like to pass along. Fold up the piece of paper and tuck it away in a safe place to be found at a later date. Or choose to share it with those closest to you and encourage them to do the same. Regardless, leaving a legacy for those that follow is what should motivate each of us everyday in the work we do and the lives we touch.