​One of the most valuable gifts to pass along to future generations is the gift of memories, stories, values and special wisdom. An ideal way to share these is by creating what is known as an ethical will, also sometimes called a legacy letter.

HMC Hospice of Medina County, an affiliate of Hospice of the Western Reserve, has helped its patients create legacy letters for years, but people can create them at any age and any stage of life. 

“It’s a custom that dates back thousands of years,” said Catherine Rohr, Provider Relations Manager. “It’s a practice gaining popularity as more people get involved in tracing their DNA, ancestry and family trees. Creating an ethical will can add even more depth and meaning to a family’s history.” Rohr presents a free talk and workshop available to any organization in the community called, “Legacy Letters: Sharing the Story of You.”

“Creating a legacy letter is a meaningful project multiple generation of a family can work on together,” Rohr said. “Many topics can provide creative inspiration: family history and traditions, personal philosophy, fondest memories, lessons learned, proudest achievements, most enjoyable pastimes… these are just a few of the themes that can be explored.”   

Rohr said ethical wills are not always letters. “They can take many forms and can be customized to reflect each person’s preferred way of communicating.” Recording a video, compiling most loved songs or hymns on a CD, creating a family recipe album, writing an autobiography, sewing an heirloom quilt and assembling a scrapbook or memory box are a few other ideas.

“The process of creating an ethical will often has a therapeutic effect,” Rohr said. “Sifting through photos, old letters and mementos stimulates self-reflection and can bring back many pleasant memories. Communicating matters of the heart and the lessons learned along life’s journey is one of the most valued and precious gifts we can give our families.”

To inquire about scheduling a free ethical wills presentation for your organization, email speakers@hospicewr.org or call 216.430.0955. Several additional topics are also available.