The things we leave behind matter
Writing a personal legacy letter to your child can be a gift they will treasure and also a life affirming and satisfying experience for you.
You may choose to accompany your legal will with a legacy letter to your child. Whilst not essential, a letter could be a precious gift for a child to receive. It can have a soothing effect and provide a sense of comfort during a time of loss and grief. Writing up a legal will (that includes guidelines for guardians) and a legacy letter to your child can have a healing effect for yourself as well. It can bring a sense of wholeness and completion as it helps you come to terms with mortality by creating something of meaning that will live on through generations after you are gone.
Overall, it can be quite an eye opening experience as we learn a lot about ourselves and begin to understand our own values. For soon-to-be parents, it is an excellent way to learn more about your partner’s values and approach to child rearing. As for growing families, it can provide a means of resolving any conflict by increasing the understanding of each other’s important values and has the potential to improve communication with our children.
Your letter may include
- Expressions of your love and appreciation of your child;
- The qualities you admire in your child;
- Special memories your share with your child;
- Wishes for your child;
- Life lessons and advice;
- Stories from your life before your children were born;
- An expression of any regrets, forgiving others and asking for forgiveness; and
- Stories about cherished things being passed down: to whom & why.
Hand written personal letters are unique. Your letter should be from your heart, read as your own voice and reflect the relationship you have with your child. Upon the completion of your letter, take a moment to reflect.
- Have your words adequately conveyed the message you mean to send?
- Is the tone of your writing free from negativity?
- Have you used words that don’t seem quite right or words that don’t sound like you?
- Have you really written a blessing or an instruction?
- If you received this letter, how would you respond to the letter?
Once final, make sure the letter is sealed, addressed to your child and appropriately marked: ‘to be opened only after my death’. While your personal letter will not form part of your will, you can store it for free at The Victorian Will and Powers of Attorney Registry together with your will.
Writing your legal will and personal legacy letter can be a satisfying experience addressing deep human desires like the need to belong, to be remembered, to make a difference and to celebrate life.
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