Despite the pain our lives are better and richer because our loved one was and still is part of our lives. Creating a lasting legacy as a way to honour your loved one not only helps you move through your grief but can help you live a better life. As Sogyal Rinpoche says in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying we can end up living lives of greater depth and purpose which gives our loved one’s death even greater meaning.
There are many lasting legacies already in the world. The Taj Mahal was built by an Indian Emperor as a tribute to his dead wife. There is the AIDS blanket that has a square as tribute to every person who has died from the disease. Eric Clapton wrote Stairway to Heaven as a tribute to his young son. There are many more stories out there of people who wrote books. Some people made their dreams a reality. Others have created businesses, raise money for charity or even set up their own.
Yet if it was easy to create lasting legacies in honour of our loved ones more people would be doing it. The biggest challenge is first getting past your own pain and sadness over their death. Make sure you have supportive structures in place, not only for your grief but also for the lasting legacy you want to create. Don’t be afraid to experience the emotions of your grief for they can actually help you create your own lasting legacy. The organisation MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) was driven by the anger one mother felt over the death of her child through the actions of a drunk driver.
Set an intention for what you want to achieve. Anything is possible as these example have shown. It’s definitely not a path for the faint-hearted as creating a lasting legacy will require you to look within and discover who you truly are after your loss. It will require you to explore the relationship you have with your loved one before they died and explore how to continue that relationship on now, in death. You’ll need to be able to see the gifts and growth that come to you through the death of your loved one, which is incredibly challenging.
What you gain though by doing this is a gift that far outweighs the challenge. You are able to know that your loved one is still impacting the world. Even in death, they are still influencing and helping others. People will know about your loved one and how special they were. They will talk about them and remember them. You will gain comfort from this and it’ll help transform your grief.
Questions for Self-Reflection:
- What lasting legacies have you already created to honor your loved one?
- What would be your ideal lasting legacy for them?
- What would you need to do to make this a reality?
- Who would you need to be to do this?