In a previous blog, we introduced you to the work of death doulas, aka end of life doulas. Our new friend, Wendy Longacre Brown, shares a bit more about doing legacy work with her clients. Epilogg believes it too: Stories matter. For everyone.
You also work with clients on their personal histories and legacies. Tell us about why you offer this service:
The legacy side was something that just kept itching at me. Growing up in Minneapolis, I had parents who would write me long letters when I was at camp and I have gazillions of journals. To me, documenting my life was a part of my process of growing and developing, but I hadn’t heard of people writing their own life legacy.
A life legacy project can be in all different forms and that’s the beauty of it. What people often ask for is a recorded story, which I then type and make into either a document that they hold, or sometimes it’s made into a book. There’s sometimes videos, or maybe it’s letters or a memory box or an album. Ideally, a legacy is capturing how we are living our lives and how we want to be remembered. You know, it’s more than just the actual things we leave behind and that’s the biggest takeaway.
To be honest, there was this part of me thinking: ‘am I just hitting a button, recording, and typing that and giving it back?’ But to see the transformation with every client; it’s so unique, what they’re receiving out of that time meeting with me.
Tell us more about that transformation you see when people share their legacies:
The first client I ever had, he had brain cancer and it was a video legacy. It was a process for this man to be able to sit with me and cry and share what he wanted his daughter to be able to hear later because he knew she would have no memory of him. So he needed to be able to do that, to rest peacefully, knowing that he had shared what his dreams were for her and what he hoped she would remember about him.
I’m really a sounding board. My gift is to listen deeply and to ask the right questions.
Sometimes the potential client… they think their life is just pretty ordinary and their reflections will be less interesting to their loved ones, but they should consider the opposite: each one of us has lived a unique life, be it short or long. When they share their stories with their loved ones, they become meaningful.
People aren’t sitting around campfires sharing stories anymore. So, this is really a time to share family heritages and customs and traditions and to mark our own life milestones so our children will be able to remember them for years to come.
How does the work you’re doing connect to what Epilogg is doing to expand the idea of what an obituary could be?
I mean, we all are going to die, that’s the whole point: it’s giving people control and a say over what they want their history and their legacy to be about.