10 Legacy Project Ideas
Leaving behind a legacy is an important part of death for many families and individuals, but it's not always something that comes to mind earlier in life. Legacies are typically thought of as both tangible and intangible accomplishments that folks leave behind after they pass away. This can sometimes be their family, their contributions to a field of study, a financial legacy, or other means of "leaving their mark" -- but not always as something that someone left behind with intention. Legacy projects bridge this gap and allow someone to leave behind a legacy that they worked on with intention.
What is a person's legacy?
Legacy is defined in multiple ways. Legacy can be something tangible, like a building or family business that continues to stand after you pass away. Legacy can also mean intangible things, such as the impact someone made on another person's life when they passed away -- for example through teaching many students throughout their years of study.
What is a legacy project?
A legacy project is a piece of work that someone does to leave behind after they pass away. Legacy projects can be something tangible, like building a house or writing a book, but it doesn't have to be. Legacy projects are often set up in advance and funded by the person who wants their legacy project to continue on when they die. Legacy projects are also something that death doulas or hospice care workers typically help someone with when they're going through the dying process.
Why should someone do a legacy project?
Why not? Legacy projects are a great way to leave behind something that is really important and meaningful for you after you pass away. You can also work on legacy projects with people who will continue them on when you die, so it's more than just your own history left behind -- it's shared with someone else as well. Legacy projects allow you to set your legacy in stone, so you're able to work towards something meaningful during life, even if it's at the end of life. Legacy projects are also a way for family members and loved ones who will continue working on the project after someone passes away to feel like they have a special connection with that person who passed away too.
Legacy project ideas
Ready to get started on your legacy project (or helping someone else start their own legacy project)? Here are some ideas for unique legacy projects you and a loved one can start working on today.
1. Recipe box
If you're someone who loves to cook, a recipe box is an excellent idea for a legacy project and one that can stay in your family and community for many years to come. Start by compiling your favorite recipes into a box or binder. You can of course include recipes you've developed with (or maybe ones that have been passed down to you) and you can include recipes that you love that were created by someone else. Include a copy of the recipe, cooking instructions, and any special notes you have about the dish. Don't forget to include photos of you cooking the dish too for an added bonus! This is a great project for older relatives who want to leave their culinary skills behind for future generations.
2. Legacy quilt
A legacy quilt is a quilt that is made to commemorate someone and their life. If you like to sew or quilt (or have never quilted before), this is a great project if you have access to a sewing machine. A legacy quilt can include swatches of your favorite fabrics, photos that have been printed on to fabric, quotes that you embroider, and other patterns or colors that you loved during your lifetime. You can consider making smaller quilts for individual members in your family or one large quilt that can be shared or passed around your family.
3. Legacy letters
Legacy letters are a beautiful way to leave your life story behind for future generations. These letters can be written as if you're writing to a loved one who will find them after you die, or they can be compiled into a book that is passed down through the family. Legacy letters can include stories about your childhood, what made you fall in love with life, your hopes and dreams for the future, and what you learned during your time on earth. Letters are also a great way to pass on your advice to others, especially if you’re writing a different letter for each loved one in your life. If you're not comfortable writing your own legacy letters, ask a loved one to help you out. Legacy letters are a great way for younger generations to learn about their ancestors and the things that mattered most to them. If you're not able to write or type, you can ask a loved one to help you write these letters by dictating what should be written.
4. Start a foundation or charitable cause in your name
Starting a foundation or asking for contributions towards a charitable cause in your name after you die is a great way to leave your legacy behind. Legacy projects like these are great for people who were philanthropic during life, for those that have causes they want to support, or for those who would like to financially support causes or people after they pass away. Legacy foundations can be set up to continue the work that you started while alive or they can go towards a cause that is meaningful to your family after you pass away. If you have a memorial website, you can designate donations to be made to a cause easily.
5. Raise money for a scholarship
Raising money for a scholarship is another great way to leave your legacy behind. This type of legacy project is perfect for those who love to learn or for those that want to help others achieve their dreams. Start by raising money to fund a scholarship in your name or the name of a loved one. You can set up donation jars, have a charity dinner, or even start a crowdfunding campaign. Once you've raised enough money, you can award scholarships to students who could use the financial help.
6. Make a video or audio recording
Creating a video or set of recordings is a great way to give something to your friends, family, and community that they can view or listen to at any time. Legacy videos and recordings can include stories about your life, what you loved most, what made you happy, or any other memories that you want to share. You can also use this opportunity to say goodbye to your loved ones or leave messages for them. Legacy audio recordings can be just as powerful as videos and are great for people who want to leave a voice recording behind. Legacy videos and recordings can be made privately or you can share them publicly to help others who are grieving know that they aren't alone in their loss.
7. Write a short (or long) autobiography
You don't have to be a writer to write an autobiography, no matter the length. Legacy autobiographies are a great way to share your history with friends, family, and future generations. Legacy autobiographies can start from the day you were born or they can pick up at a special moment in your life. Legacy autobiographies don't have to be long novels either - writing about what makes you who you are is an amazing place to begin (and end).
8. Purchase a bench in a favorite park
If you're looking for something more functional that others can use in your memory, you can purchase a bench in a park or other public space that was important to you. Legacy benches are great for parks that were special places during life and they also provide comfort for others who visit the bench. Legacy benches are usually made out of metal so they're weather resistant and easy to maintain over time.
9. Sew or knit clothing for your loved ones
Another option for those who know how to knit, sew, or crochet is to make clothing for their loved ones. Legacy clothing can be worn or displayed as a special memory of you. This type of legacy project is perfect for those who loved to sew, knit, or crochet and want to leave something behind that will be used and enjoyed by their loved ones. Legacy clothing can also be made into quilts or blankets which are perfect for displaying your love and care for others. Legacy clothing can also be made into stuffed animals or dolls which are great for children who will always remember the love and care that you put into each one.
10. Write a "What I learned" letter or document
Sharing lessons about what you learned throughout your life is a great way to leave your legacy behind. Legacy letters or documents can be written to friends, family, or even strangers who you want to share your knowledge with. Legacy letters and documents can include anything from life advice, favorite recipes, gardening tips, or any other information that you think would be helpful for others. You can also use this opportunity to share your beliefs and what you hold dear. Legacy letters and documents can be as short or as long as you want them to be, making them a perfect project for those who love to write.
Have you started a legacy project or want to share photos of your legacy? Starting a memorial website is a great place to do this. Memorial websites are free and easy to use, come full of features and are easily shareable.