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Sharing Your Legacy

Chapter 10: Sharing Your Legacy

Tools for Handling Loss

By: James J. Messina, Ph.D.


There is a real need in today's mobile society when families get spread apart all over the country to create links to one another so that the lessons learned in one's life can be shared with children and their children so that one's personal legacy is respected and honored. This section contains a presentation and directions on how to share your legacy with your family. It is has been inspired by the Last Lecture of Randy Pausch which was published in April 2008.

This chapter of Tools for Handling Loss is dedicated to the Memory of Randy Pausch 1960-2008 whose Last Lecture was the inspiration for this Legacy presentation.

The Last Lecture: An Example of Sharing One's Legacy with Loved Ones


Randy Pausch had an incredible ability to develop a "Last Lecture" which would become a treasured legacy not only for his wife and children of his wonderful brilliance, generosity, humanitarianism, and love of life but an outstanding example for us all of the need to record our own "Last Lecture" for our loved ones.


Before we begin reading the instructions on how to go about writing your own Last Lecture please take the time to watch Randy's Last Lecture which is available on youtube at:

Your Last Lecture Script-Sharing Your Legacy
So you are ready to prepare your Last Lecture! Congratulations! You are doing yourself and your family members a wonderful gift with the time it will take to complete this project.

Step 1: Gather the following before you begin to write your script:

1. All the pictures you have collected over your life time so that you can sort out the most important ones to include in your Last Lecture Album. Be sure you have the approximate date the pictures were taken and who are the people in the picture so that you can chronologically and accurately place and label the pictures in album.

2. All of the family videos or movie pictures you have collected over your life time so that you can include in your Last Picture Album those which most accurately reflect the message you want to give in your Last Lecture.

3. All Artwork (or pictures of the artwork) which have had meaning to you over your life time. You might even want to do some artwork to include in this section of your Last Lecture Album. It is amazing what wonderful emotions and lessons can be shared through the medium of art!

4. All Music which had definite meaning for you in your life time like: Songs played at your family weddings, parties, events, etc. This includes songs from your favorite artists and from concerts and shows you might have seen which have a real message for you, which you want to share with your family.

Step 2: Brainstorm and collect the following details before you begin to write your script:


1. Birthdates of your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and great-grandparents (If you can get them)

2. List of significant dates in the life of your family beginning with the wedding dates of your grandparents and your own parents

3. Geographic locations where your parents’ families were raised along with the geographic locations where you lived your life from birth to present

4. List of schools you attended by date, place and the year you moved or graduated from the school


5. List of jobs you have held since you started working to present:

  • Dates on each job
  • Geographic locations of each job
  • What you did on each job

6. Brainstormed list of transitions you have experienced in life and what helped or would have helped to make these transitions go smoothly and successful for you such as:

  • Graduation from high school and either going to college or getting a job
  • Graduation from college and getting a job
  • Moving permanently out of your family’s home
  • Moving from one job to another
  • Moving into a new community
  • Getting Married
  • Getting divorced
  • Having children
  • Seeing your children make the same transitions in life you did
  • Retiring from full time employment
  • Letting go of loved one who have died


7. Brainstormed list of the significant people in your life and why they were significant to you including your:

  • Spouse(s)
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Aunts
  • Uncles
  • Cousins
  • Teachers
  • Spiritual Guides
  • Friends
  • Associates at Work
  • Children
  • Other (be specific)

8. Brainstormed list of cherished memories you have experienced with these different people during your life time


9. Brainstormed Lists of some "Significant Things" from your life:

  • What you are most proud of in your life?
  • What you most regret in your life?
  • If you could have changed certain things in your life what would they be?
  • What you are glad happened in your life even though at the time you wished it had not happened?
  • What you always wanted to accomplish or experience but never had the time, money, or ability to accomplish or experience?


10. Brainstormed list of lessons you have learned in your life

11. Brainstormed list of values and beliefs which have guided you over your life time

12. Brainstormed list of people you have come in contact with over your lifetime who hurt you and whom you have forgiven or now want to forgive

13. Brainstormed list of hopes you have for your family members to realize in their own lifetimes


14. Brainstormed list of blessings which you wish for your family members over their own lifetime

Step 3: Write your script following this outline:


1. History of your family going back to your grandparents

  • Background of all of your grandparents and parents
  • Cherished memories and stories
  • What lessons you learned coming from this family


2. Your personal history

  • Describe the Family you were raised in
  • Schools attended and what you learned from each school
  • People you encountered in your school years and the impact they had on your life
  • Cherished memories and stories about the people you encountered
  • What lessons you learned from your school days
  • Jobs you held
  • People you met on your jobs
  • Cherished memories and stories about the people you encountered
  • What lessons you learned from your jobs


3. Your history of making transitions in your life

  • Advice you want your family members to have on how to make successful transitions in their own lives
  • What you have learned about what works and does not work in handling life’s transitions
  • What steps you hope your family members will take when they face transitions in their life which mirror the transitions you have experienced in your own life


4. Values and beliefs which directed your life

  • How these values and beliefs have guided your life
  • What values and beliefs you wish your family to acquire and carry on
  • What was the upside to you maintaining your values and beliefs in life


5. Lessons you have learned in life you want to share with your family

The lessons learned from:

  • tragedies
  • mistakes
  • errors of judgment
  • accidents
  • hard knocks of life
  • other (be specific)


6. Regrets for past decisions and/or actions

  • What are those things in the past for which you have regrets and how this has influenced you and the twists and turns of your life
  • What is your advice to your family regarding holding on to regrets over personal decisions and/or actions in their past


7. Who and what you now forgive for real or imagined hurts

  • Who did something for which today you forgive this person and what you believe would have happened if you had forgiven this person earlier in your life
  • Who is it that did something unintentionally which felt hurtful to you for which you held on to resentment and now are ready to forgive and what you believe would have happened if you had forgiven this person earlier in your life
  • What is your advice to your family regarding the need to forgive people who have done real hurtful things to them or to those who they believe have been hurtful if not by intentional action but unintentionally


8. Your hope for the future for your family

  • Express clearly what you hope the future of your family members will be
  • Tell your family members what you hope they will achieve in their lives


9. Blessings and messages of Love with which you want to end your lecture

  • Let your family members know how much you love them and care about them
  • Let your family know that you want the best for them for the rest of their lives
  • Let your family know that through this your Last Lecture that they will blessed by having this message to turn to whenever they might need a reminder or mid-course correction in their lives

Step 4: How to Use the Script of Your Last Lecture


1. Use the script for a video you create in which you talk to your family sharing them Your Last Lecture


2. Use the script to create a PowerPoint which contains your Last Lecture which you use when you have your family members over to see what you have created for them


3. Use the Script to make an audio tape or podcast to share with your family


4. Print the script out as book which goes along with the album and video collection you have made in this process


5. Use all of the above methods to share your Last Lecture with your Family Members


Alvarez, L. (2005). Farewell with Love and Instructions. New York Times: Oct. 6, 2005

Baines, B. K. (2006). Ethical Wills-Second Edition.  Cambridge, MA:

Da Capo Press

Baines, B. K. (2001). The Ethical Will Writing Guide Workbook. Cambridge, MA: Josaba Ltd.

Elgin, D & Ledrew, C.(2001). Living Legacies: How to Write, Illustrate, and Share Your Life Stories. Berkley, CA: Conari Press Books


Pausch, R. & Zaslow, J. (2008). The Last Lecture. New York: Hyperion


Russert, T. (2004). Big Russ and Me Father and Son: Lessons of Life. New York: Hyperion


Russert, T. (2006). Wisdom of Our Fathers Lessons and Letters

from Daughters and Sons. New York: Random House

Scott, B. (2006). Leaving a Legacy., April 19, 2006

Siegel, J. (2003).
Lessons for Dylan: From Father to Son. New York: Public Affairs

Spence, L. (1997)A Step by Step Guide to Writing  Personal History.  Athens, OH: Swallow Press/Ohio University Press

Randy Pausch Related sites:

Randy’s Last Lecture video:

Click here for: Transcript of Randy's Last Lecture

Randy’s Time Management Lecture:

The Last Lecture