Legacy Writing: Expressing Our Love

04/03/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Legacy writing addresses our need to belong, to be known, to be remembered, to have our lives make a difference, to know we're blessed and to bless others, and to celebrate life. Writing to bless others with our love is as healing for us as it will be a cherished gift of those who receive your legacy love-letter.

"Love is so much larger than anything I can conceive.
It may be the element that keeps the stars in the firmament."
- Maya Angelou

It's no surprise as the short dark days of winter begin yielding to more light, that we begin musing about spring, "the time when a young person's fancy turns to love." People of every age are warmed by hopeful thoughts of spring's births and buds, and our hearts open to express our love, to write "legacy love-letters."

"Age does not protect you from love.
But love, to some extent, protects you from age."

- The French actress,
Jeanne Moreau

These expressions of love are much needed in this world, slaking the thirst of those around us: family, friends, community. Yet for many of us expressing love directly may feel awkward, even foolish, in this sophisticated age. Expressing love is neither simple nor easy, but it may be the most important practice of our lives.

Knowing in our hearts that we love, we often believe that others know it without our taking the responsibility of expressing it.

"For one human being to love another;
that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate,
the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation."

- Rainer Maria Rilke

"Love" is a verb, an action. Love is complex. Built of com-passion and caring, it can be conditional or unconditional, physical, romantic, platonic, passionate, and is different in each of our relationships. There's self-love, love for other people and species, love of nature and the earth, and love of God. Giving voice to and writing our love is courageous and tangible. By writing legacy love-letters, your love will be preserved, read and reread, nurtures our loved ones and lets them know they are cherished.

"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them, humanity cannot survive."

- The Dalai Lama

Some Suggestions for Action:

1. Begin with an exploration of love as you see, understand, experience it in yourself and the world around you. I suggest free-flowing journaling for no more than 15 minutes for as many days as you find some-thing to write.
2. Then make a list of people and things you love.
3. Choose one person on your list, and write a letter to her/him expressing your love with genuine recognition, appreciation, caring, and validation of your experience of them. You may want to thank them for their love too. You may choose to conclude your letter with a blessing for this beloved. (Again, write your letter in no more than 15 minutes)
4. Return to your journal, and write for five minutes about your experience writing; (I call this "Process Notes").
5. Mail or give this "legacy love-letter" to the person to whom it was written at an appropriate time, perhaps as a Valentine's Day gift.

Steps three to five can be repeated; expressing love as part of your legacy is significant for any special occasion (birthday/anniversary/graduation, etc.) and at all times of the year.

May your writing be blessed with love,
and may all your legacies be blessings,

~ Rachael Freed

You can find out more about communicating and preserving your legacy (ethical will) at Email:

Rachel Freed is the author of Women's Lives, Women's Legacies, Passing Your Beliefs and Blessings to Future Generations, Rachael is a Senior Fellow at the University of Minnesota's Center for Spirituality and Healing, clinical social worker, adult educator, and legacy consultant. She is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.