Thursday, October 31, 2013

Legacy Letters and Epistolary Memoirs

While writing letters has become almost as common as listening to music on a Walkman, there can be an enormous benefit to engaging in a particular form of letter writing.

Epistolary memoirs are life events that have been captured in the form of written correspondence--yes, letters! You may ask, “Why would I want to do that?”

Passing along your memoirs is obviously important to succeed in offering your personal version of your life’s events and in order to prevent the stories from becoming forever lost. It offers loved ones a tangible form of documentation to preserve and hand down to future generations. Writing about your experiences in letter form is simply another option that might enable you to more easily allow the stories to flow.

Tackling Epistolary Memoirs

1-Chart a list of your memories and highlights that you want to be certain to include.

2-Choose an individual (child, grandchild, niece, nephew) or group of people (children, grandchildren, etc.) and write your stories directly to that person or group, clearly explaining about the people involved in the stories, exactly what occurred, the positive or negative impact on you and perhaps how you feel about those events.

3-Don’t forget to include sensory details (think sight, smell sound, taste, touch, feeling, thinking, distinctive characteristics of individuals including you).

When Time is Ticking on a Downward Spiral

Recently, a close friend and I were discussing an idea for gift-giving to folks who are elderly or under hospice care. Her thought was to buy a box of stationery and envelopes and suggest that the individual write a separate letter to each grown child and/or grandchild. I love that thought! Who wouldn’t appreciate a personalized  letter from a parent or grandparent that told them how much and why they were treasured? Or why certain circumstances existed? Or something they always wanted to say, but had never taken that step?

If you intend to give this stationery gift to someone, consider these points:

1-Don’t wait until they no longer have the capacity to recall their memories or to write the letters.

2-If they need assistance, encourage them to dictate the letters to someone who will write for them.

3-In searching for boxes of stationery to purchase, you may be surprised to discover that because of the world of instant communication in which we now exist, you may have to search extensively to find boxes of paper and matching envelopes that would have, at one time, been readily available. Check your local office supply stores, as they ordinarily carry these items.

4-If more convenient and practical, utilize a small handheld recorder to allow them to verbalize the letters they would write if they were able. Have the recordings transcribed into letters.

Tips for Writing Epistolary Memoirs or Special Legacy Letters:

1-Make a list of the individuals to whom you would like to share your thoughts.

2-Tell him/her what your relationship with them has meant to you. How has he/she enhanced your life?

3-What do you recall most about his/her personality, appearance, contribution to you personally and to society in general?

4-Describe special moments have you shared with him/her.

5-Once you are no longer here, what might you regret not having told him/her?

6-What words of wisdom would you like to share with future generations to whom your letters may be passed down?  For instance, by what philosophies/standards/goals/beliefs/values have you lived and operated? By what means has strength been imparted to you during difficult times?
Inspire them. Give them something meaningful which they and the next generations can clasp tightly to their hearts and benefit simply because you devoted a block of time to disclose previously unrevealed valuable thoughts and feelings. Your legacy matters.

About Mary Anne Benedetto:
Speaker, ghostwriter,  blogger, Certified Lifewriting Instructor and author of Eyelash, Never Say Perfect, 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing and From Italy with Love & Limoncello, Coming mid-November, 2013: Write Your Pet's Life Story in 7 Easy Steps. Mary Anne Benedetto’s passions include helping people preserve their life and pet stories, creating Christian fiction, visits with friends and family, world travel and walking the spectacular South Carolina beaches.  Please visit her at,, and

No comments:

Post a Comment