5 Creative Ways You Can Celebrate a Dying Loved One's Legacy

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One constructive way to channel the sorrow and heaviness of watching someone you love slip away is to focus on your loved one's legacy. We all leave one. It's "the unique footprint we leave for our time on earth," says geriatric expert David Solie.

There are countless legacy options, from writing a life story to taking an oral history. Such positive thoughts can help redirect sadder emotions.

Some of the more creative ways families have found to celebrate a loved one's life:

1. Start a scrapbook of memorabilia.

Corral paper mementos and key images into one beautiful book that other family members can share and look through.

2. Fill a memory box.

Even easier: Place favorite or emblematic items (a car key, knitting needles, medals, images, certificates) into an archive-style box. Invite family members to suggest what should go in it.

3. Donate prized, emblematic possessions.

Examples: Give a pianist's piano to a local school, a World War II uniform to a museum, a book collection to a library.

4. Create a memory quilt.

Invite family and friends to contribute squares celebrating the person's life, on which they can embroider, offer up photos to be transferred to fabric, or contribute in other ways. A similar option is to make a quilt, teddy bear, or other item out of scraps of the person's favorite clothing.

5. Carry on the person's hobby.

Does your loved one draw or paint? Consider using his or her materials to put a hand to it yourself, or framing his or her art to donate to a local nursing home or school. Learn the person's musical instrument. Collect a cook's best recipes and print up copies to share with others. Take a class so that you can become proficient at one of his or her skills.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio

about 2 years, said...

Has anything helped to slow down the Alzheimer's disease?

about 3 years, said...

Another way: You can write & publish, yourself, a Family History book on Ancestry.com filled w/ his or her pictures. Anyone who would like to see the one I created for my Mom's 100th B.day, get in-touch w/me.

over 3 years, said...

Since I am experiencing anticipatory grief each time I visit my 87 year old mom with end-stage Parkinsons, some of the above suggestions ARE helpful. A tasteful scrapbook of photos, cards, and other mementos is a good idea. may not have to so so, however, since mom was excellent at compiling photo albims, of which I have quite a stack. We do have one of her floral paintings on the wall in her room, so may consider getting a quality color copy made, framing it, & donating it to the care center. I've already been taking on one of her daily passions: crossword puzzles! All of my sibs and myself read books constantly, just as she did. Thanks for this article.

over 3 years, said...

Though there is a time and a place for these suggestions, I'm not convinced it is while my loved one is still breathing.

almost 4 years, said...

The reason you are sad is for them; how does any of this help them???

about 6 years, said...

Some how this made me cry and realize how much I am still in denial. I could not even think of giving away his guitar! I keep hoping he will play it again. Oh, I miss him playing and singing love songs to me.