Structure of the Book

There are five narratives built into the design of the Living Legacy LifeBook, plus two supplementary sections: the first supports an adult’s identity and healthy sense of self while downsizing: the second maintains a record of important personal documents.

1. Family Myths, Legends, and History: allows elders to recall and then share stories from their families and communities of origin, drawing a picture in words of the world into which they were born. Who were their ancestors? Where did they live? What obstacles did they face and overcome? Was anyone known for anything remarkable in any way? Are there any traditional family recipes with special ingredients that no one wrote down?

2. Life and Times is where our elders get to recall and review their own lives, telling all the stories from where and when they were born to what they believed in, what history they witnessed and took part in, the books and movies they enjoyed, and what moved them.
The goal of life review in the first two narratives is for elders to remember and transmit family history and traditions, clarify and refine their identity, achieve a renewed sense of self, gain a sense of accomplishment, and most importantly, build a foundation for ongoing community participation and contribution.

3. Regrets, Apologies and Forgiveness support spiritual and emotional well-being. In this narrative we will ask to them reflect upon those moments when they said “No” when it might have better have said “Yes” or, “Yes” when they should have said “No.” They share with us those tasks that, if accomplished, would leave them feeling more whole and complete, feeling better about themselves and their lives.
Here, elders bring new completion to their past. They unearth long buried regrets; consider making apologies and grant forgiveness where forgiveness remains to be forgiven (even to those who are no longer living). Whether or not they take action, the act of review, heals.

4. Plans and Dreams: elders has elders remember how to want, potentially taking long-faded dreams off of the back burners of their lives, and make new plans and dreams to fulfill in the years to come. From a renewed sense of self there arises new opportunities to get out, create, participate, and contribute to family and community.

Elders experience living into the next, not the last acts of their lives. (We and they listen for their “Bucket List.” Just like Nicholson’s character asked Morgan Freeman’s character in the movie, “What would they do, where would go, if they could and if they were able? What kind of support would they like from us to accomplish the items on their Bucket List?)

5. Wisdom, Perception, and Legacy. Listening to this narrative helps them honor their lives, gain self-respect, and see themselves as a contribution to today’s world and for future generations. We ask, “What do they know now that they wished they had known then?” What wisdom do they have to offer to us and our children and our children’s children from their extensive life experiences? How can we avoid reinventing the wheel? We can ask them questions like: What are their secrets for good relationships, raising children, managing money? How do they see the Divine’s place in the world?

In addition, the LifeBook includes two supplementary sections:

6. Downsizing your life (not your identity): The central concept of this section is that objects carry associated memories. The process of moving from a home in which one has lived for many years to a smaller home in a retirement community involves giving away or distributing long held memory-laden objects. In this section seniors create a durable record of the homes in which they once lived, make a record of all the objects that surrounded them as they grew up, and record the family and life stories imbedded in those beloved mementos. In this manner they become free to give away the objects but keep the memories.

7. Important documents: In this last section seniors keep copies of their, Living Wills, Durable Powers of Attorney, Health care proxies, Birth and Marriage certificates, passwords, and so forth. These are documents that will convey their wishes and desires to family members when they are incapacitated or unconscious, for example unconscious in a hospital.