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  • Judy Carole

Legacies and memorials

Regretfully, after a person’s death, it is not unusual for funeral participants to discover more about the person’s life during the service than they did whilst they were alive. Nor is it unusual to hear comments after the service in the vein of, ‘I never knew they had such an interesting life…’

Often, when people retire, unless they held a particularly prominent role, their careers are forgotten. Their winter years’ conversations often centre around the more limited life they are now living, and their interesting past slides away, unnoticed – until they are gone, of course, by which time it is too late. This is a distressing truth but, by that point, it is too late to show the deceased person they were valued. Too late to talk to them, to validate the life they led was not only interesting, but had meaning.

Aura’s life history platform gives us the opportunity to detail our life’s path, with all its highs and lows, and make it available to friends and family while we are still alive. This facilitates two-way sharing about the lives of everyone involved. Filling out the life history section that Aura makes available gives others the opportunity to celebrate our lives while we still live them, and helps those who know us to acknowledge our accomplishments, and share in our memories while they can; this means our lives will be remembered by those who want to remember, and we can have conversations with those we care for before it is too late.

Aura also provides the tools to decide what kind of memorial we would like, relieving the burden of decisions from our friends and family, and placing it exactly where it belongs – with us.

Legacies and memorials vary greatly and come in many shapes and sizes. A legacy is anything bequeathed by a predecessor, and a memorial is an object which serves as a focus for a memory. Just to confuse matters, a legacy can be used to set up a memorial. A legacy can ensure our most meaningful possessions are appreciated by someone after we die – a will ensures specific objects go to certain individuals. Writing an accompanying letter stating the history of various objects can be beneficial, identifying items that have particular value or meaning, as well as listing which items should be bequeathed to whom. This distribution is best notarised, bearing in mind that verbal promises can cause later upset. The act of leaving a will is one of the most important and thoughtful things you can do for people you leave behind, and can spare them unnecessary disappointment and disagreements. There are, of course, occasions when families agree on the dispersal of possessions but, as many will testify, death doesn’t always bring out the best in people.

When considering our end of life, and contemplating the various valuables, assets, and paraphernalia we have collected during our lifetime, we may have to admit to ourselves that some of our belongings may be best served being donated to charity, or even recycled. But there are other objects that hold intrinsic or emotional value – carefully considering who might appreciate them may bring us some comfort.

Perhaps understandably, not everyone nearing the end of life is interested in planning their own memorial, yet others be comforted by such action. It is rare for there to be no memorial at all, and such things can take many different forms: ceremonies, plaques, park benches, even buildings dedicated to someone connected with an organisation.

Everyone has different ideas as to what constitutes a suitable memorial – what seems tasteless to one person offers a significant symbol of love to another. If the person who has died did not had an active role in considering what memorial they would like, it may be worth delaying before deciding on one: emotions run very high immediately after a death, and might force a memorial based upon emotion, rather than practical considerations. Many feel a memorial is not just a way of remembering, but also a means for doing good for others – such as donating money to charity, helping others suffering from the same condition as the deceased.

Deliberating your legacies, and acting sooner rather than later to notarise them, is a loving thing to do for those you leave behind. Sharing your history with friends and family – perhaps through Aura’s life history tool – will allow them to share your life’s ups and downs while you are present, and not regret neglecting that journey once you are gone.

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