The best gift you give yourself and your loved one is to capture and preserve his or her stories before they are forgotten forever. Nothing is more powerful, gratifying and healing. One vehicle to capturing your loved one’s stories is through an updated ancient tradition called a legacy letter. A legacy letter is a heart-felt document or book of personal and family stories, life lessons, blessings and expressions of gratitude shared with family. The legacy letter enables people to pass on values, not just their valuables; to pass on what they have learned, not just what they have earned. Putting pen to paper about these intangible assets is a way for people to preserve who they are, and what matters most to them. It is a way to be remembered, understood, and to make a real difference to younger and future generations.
Surprising Health Benefits
Although short-term memory is impaired for people with Alzheimer’s, long-term memory comes to the forefront, providing an important opportunity for life review. Reminiscing is a key ingredient of life review and for crafting a legacy letter. Reminiscing has profound physical, psychological, social and spiritual health benefits. Studies indicate that this activity can increase self-esteem, raise life satisfaction, improve cognitive functioning, and decrease levels of depression and anxiety. Studies have also shown that the simple act of writing lowers blood pressure, arthritis pain, asthma symptoms, and boost the immune system. In fact, reminiscing is an important and necessary developmental process we all need to go through that is highly therapeutic and healing.
Although most people believe it is a great idea to write a legacy letter and important to preserve one’s family heritage, they don’t do it. People are so busy or they don’t enjoy or feel comfortable writing or interviewing a loved one. That’s were Leah Dobkin can help. Ms. Dobkin, is a professional journalist, author, gerontologist and founder of Legacy Letters. She offers writing services and workshops to help people, or their loved ones, craft a legacy letter, memoir, oral history or business history.
How to Craft A Legacy Letter
Ms. Dobkin confidentially and digitally records phone and in-person interviews, transcribes the interviews and writes a draft that you simply edit with your loved one. Using the revised draft, she designs an attractive letter or book, which can include your favorite photographs, quotes and family recipes. Then she prints copies of the letter or book for you to give as a precious gift. Every legacy letter is unique and tailored to your particular preferences. It is also a meaningful alternative to buying things, when most of us have too much stuff already.
When working with people with Alzheimer’s she will utilize memory triggers such as photographs, food, mementos, and music. She is careful not to put your loved one on the spot when soliciting dates, locations and names in specific stories. “Legacy Letters is like horseshoes, close enough is good enough,” says Ms. Dobkin. Instead, Ms. Dobkin solicits input from family members to help clarify and verify information, as well as collect tributes and stories about the loved one being interviewed. The legacy letter or book becomes a family heirloom of stories, photos, and memories contributed by family, friends, and caregivers.
Reflecting, clarifying and documenting a legacy is an important part of a life well lived – a gift to ourselves today, and to those who come after us. Even as memories fade, creating a legacy letter is one way to find peace of mind by leaving a piece of your mind, making sure nothing is left unsaid and important stories are not forgotten.
To learn more about legacy letters, gift certificates, or sponsoring a workshop you can call Leah Dobkin at (414) 238-1577, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her inspirational website: www.legacyletter.org