Posted in after the diagnosis, authenticity, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Integrity, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Every Person Has a Legacy

It was very sad to hear that Paul Newman died Friday after facing cancer.  Looking at all the news stories it’s amazing all the ways that Paul Newman had come into our lives.  The most obvious is his film career and his marriage to Ms. Woodward.  He’s also noted for race car driving and if that weren’t enough a brand of foods promoting healthier ingredients.  He started camps for children with life-threatening illnesses.  That’s a pretty big legacy.

When diagnosed with an illness one of our thoughts is often “How will people know that I was here?”, or “What mark will I leave on the world?”  These are important questions but aren’t tied to how much money you have or what you donate to causes.  Your actions can serve as your legacy.  When your words and actions match you leave a lasting legacy.  When people who know you believe you are an authentic person, that’s a legacy.

Often one of the legal parts of a life-threatening illness is a will.  The will distributes your earthly assets.  What about another type of will, a living will that doesn’t refer to medical treatment, but the values you hope you leave behind.  Leaving behind or stating clearly while you’re alive the values you hope to have demonstrated is a powerful gift for those in your life.  It can be the foundation for others to base their lives.  It’s a powerful legacy because it lives in the hearts of the people you care about.

If you have the money and want to build a wing of a hospital or put your name on a building, that’s great.  If you want your loved ones to know the importance of a good work ethic, kindness, compassion, family and love then all you have to do is share your hopes and reflect on your actions.  It’s very powerful!


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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