1) Something (such as property or money) that is received from someone who has died.
2) Something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past <the legacy of the ancient philosophers>
We often think of legacy in terms of an individual leaving her or his mark in life. Sometimes in the form of an estate, or a book, a child, a work of art, an invention, or a scientific discovery. Something someone has left behind.
Could it be that a generation could have a legacy – something it is leaving behind to the benefit of future generations?
Could it be that a generation could be an elder?
Could it be that a generation could consciously leave a legacy?
Yes, yes, and yes are my answers. I know that generations have always left a legacy behind most often they do so unconsciously. What I am writing about here is a generation such as the baby boomers, consciously and collectively leaving behind a well thought out legacy that would deeply benefit younger generations – a new philosophy if you will. For the boomer generation it would need to be a game changer so to speak!
One of our society’s most taboo topics is death. We have come to approach it as the Grim Reaper – a relationship that is clearly not working for most of us. Here is why I say this.
- Death is viewed as a failure of the medical system and is currently being professionalized by the funeral home business and demonized by such things as the anti-ageing movement.
- More than 80% of North Americans do not have their end of life preparations complete or for that matter even started.
- From a financial perspective 25% of our annual health care budgets are spent on 5% of the population who are in their final 10 months of life.
- Though over 83% of us say we want to die at home only 20% do.
Pushing death out of life and into the hospitals, hospital halls, and morgues is robbing all of us of the opportunity to say good-bye well, to help our loved one make meaning of their life, and to have elder wisdom passed on to the younger generations who will survive the death of their family member or friend.
I have found myself wondering if perhaps my generation, the boomers’, legacy could be to leave behind a new approach to death, a new relationship if you will. Could we as a generation, rebrand death, give it a new face? Could we teach the younger generations to approach death with love, acceptance, openness, and reverence?
Could our gift be to bring death back to life – to teach younger generations how to die well with dignity, quality of life and grace? Could we learn to let our doctors and nurses off the hook by having the difficult and important end of life chats well before a life and death crisis arises? Could we guide others through the end of life preparations that will enable good deaths?
All it takes is our courage to start the challenging conversations, our wisdom to discover the right help, and our responsibility to get our own end of life affairs in order.
Start today by preparing;
1) Your representation agreement – who is authorized to speak for you if you are unable to do so yourself.
2) Your advanced care directives – what you do and do not want from the medical system as you are actively dying.
3) Your will.
4) Your end of life celebration.
As Gandhi once said, “Be the change.” Lets bring death back to life for our own sake and the sake of all the generations to follow we baby boomers.