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Creating Your Legacy


Dear Kristen,

I’m planning to beat this disease, but I am aware of my mortality like never before. Do you have any ideas for things I could leave for my children and grandchildren that tell them about me and how much I love them?

* * *

Dear Reader,

I relate to both your plans to live a long life and your desire to leave a legacy for the ones you love. Because I’m living with metastatic breast cancer, I’ve done a few things along these lines and I am happy to share them, plus give you (and others) some ideas I’ve read about. I’ll start with the easiest and work my way up to more complex projects.


Keep it simple and write a letter with your best pieces of advice, favorite quotes, top values, wishes for their future, and a whole lotta love. It could be designed for them to read anytime, or on their 18th birthday, graduation day, wedding day – your choice.

Use your own handwriting! It’s so personal. No one will care whether it’s messy, they’ll just love seeing your personality come through on the page.

Guided Memory Books

You may have seen these at bookstores everywhere; here’s a link to one called “Tell Me Your Story, Mom,” on Amazon that has hundreds of great reviews. I’ve seen nice ones at Barnes & Noble and our local independent bookstore as well.

These are nice because they guide your thoughts and give you inspiration. My son gave me a book a few years ago called “300 writing prompts” and I’m about halfway through it. It’s longer than most guided journals, but I’m giving it my best shot!

“Mom Cards”

Here’s something I made for my kids, who are 26 and 23 this year. I bought a blank card deck, also available from amazon, and wrote one piece of advice on

each card. I made these over the course of a year or so, adding thoughts as they came to me or when I read something and thought it would make a great addition.

I kept my ideas in a document on my computer and then made the cards one afternoon. Here’s a link to my document if you’d like to borrow any thoughts.

Photo Albums / Scrapbooks

At the more complex end of the spectrum are photo albums combined with handwritten memories. Last year, I finally made baby albums for my son and daughter; they had been on my to-do list for 20 years so it felt really good to get them done.

You could also make “you albums,” which I did when they were children. I

gathered photos that spoke to who they were as individuals, like being silly, creative, loving, and curious. You might make a “day in the life of” family album, showing the normal, simple, – or crazy – life you lead together.

Stuffed Animals

If you want to have something special made that will be loved for years to come, I really love these Memory Bears that can be made from a piece of clothing or fabric. Not only are they highly customizable, but they're a sweet way to repurpose an article of clothing, resulting in a beautiful and meaningful legacy item.

* * *

Whatever you make, it will be cherished, even if your children receive it when you fall off your bike at age 95 and decide it’s time to pass it along.

xo Kristen


Additional Resources:

Breast Cancer Conversations

Podcast episode 123: Creative Projects for Leaving a Legacy

Metastatic Breast Cancer Meet-up

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