Legacy Of This: Our Moment In Time
We are living a historic moment in time. The COVID-19 virus is controlling us and everyone on the planet. For many this will be catastrophic: bringing a lonely death of a loved one, and for the rest of us, we will be left to mourn those lost and to forge our way in a new and forever-changed world.
In the midst of the fear, helplessness, and lonely isolation, we hear stories of and participate in beautiful things. Many people are learning creative new ways to stay in and build community, like operating Zoom and other online platforms. Others from all over are reconnecting with their families, some for the first time in years or ever.
It seems clear that the world post-COVID-19 will be unlike the world we knew. Documenting it for the future is one of our tasks as legacy writers.
(I lost an aunt who was 15 when the 1918 influenza epidemic changed the world then. My family never talked about Lillian, how her unexpected death changed the family, or how the larger world was different after that catastrophe that claimed 1/3 of the earth’s population and left 675,000 Americans dead.)
Consider the following idea as you write for the future: there are 3 time zones (I don’t mean daylight saving time, etc.) There is the moment in time when something happened; then there is the time when it is written about (and if we continue to write NOW these two time zones will be collapsed), and the third time zone is the time when the writing is read, which might be in a generation’s time or longer.
We’ve all suffered from not knowing our history and feel the empty place within us that can never be filled because those who could have told us, our ancestors, are gone. Let’s not let that happen to future generations.
- Considering reflecting and writing for 10-15 minutes daily to document our time and your personal situation. This journal can be shared in the future with those now too young to realize, and those yet unborn. Be as clear and detailed as you can; remember your readers will be living in a different time zone and will be fulfilled by the treasure of knowing their history.
- Write about your feelings, and the things you are personally doing to offer help to others. You might do something so simple as to make 2 or 3 calls to others just to connect and see how they are doing, and note and write about how you felt before and after each call.
- If you know someone, family or friend, who is working in the demanding and dangerous health system, reach out to them to see if there are ways you can help: sewing masks, donating money, and just letting them know you are thinking about and appreciating them.
- Use our four-paragraph template (context, story, learning – wisdom extracted from the story, and a blessing) to format your legacy letters, keeping the gift of your letters personal and informative.
“As you write, you are blessing the larger world by actively participating in the community. You bless others and yourself by documenting the reality of this new world we are all evolving into. May your words make a difference to others now and in the future and may you and your loved ones be blessed to stay safe and well.”
Rachael Freed, LICSW, senior fellow, Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing, University of Minnesota, is the author of Your Legacy Matters, Women’s Lives, Women’s Legacies: Passing Your Beliefs & Blessings to Future Generations and Heartmates: A Guide for the Partner and Family of the Heart Patient Rachael Freed firstname.lastname@example.org and www.life-legacies.com