Jump to content
Grief Healing Discussion Groups

A Legacy Of Love


Recommended Posts

The following comes to us from

Joyce Marie Sheldon - also known as "Joy" - author, ispirational speaker and caregiver advocate. It is reprinted here with her permission.

A Legacy of Love

It has been my privilege to share with many of you the circumstances that led to the publication of From Fear to Faith, A Caregiver's Journey. The trials endured and the lessons learned during my care giving experience laid the foundation for the mission I have since embraced - that of inspirational speaker and caregiver advocate.

I would like to share with you now, something that is not in the book, but many have asked for the details of the family ceremony that was held once everyone gathered together after my husband's death. Children had come from Buffalo, NY, Charlotte, NC and Atlanta, GA to honor their father - and I wanted to create wonderful and meaningful memories for them. My reward for finding the courage to plan ahead was given by the comment of our eldest daughter - "What a Legacy of Love! Instead of crying and crying over the loss of Dad, you gave us all golden memories to last forever."

It all began with the "Welcome Candle" which my husband and I Iit each morning during his last months. It was a symbol that we did not fear death - fear had been replaced by faith. It was a symbol that we accepted with faith and courage what we knew was the inevitable. I wanted the children to see this special candle one more time. It created the center point for The Legacy of Love. We gathered in the living room of our small mountain cottage - all 22 of us! After a quiet moment of prayer, I lit the Welcome Candle and stated that the flame signified the presence of the sacred light of their father's spirit. Then I gave each family member a tall taper candle. Each one came up and lit their taper from his flame, thus signifying the transition of his spirit to his family. We were the sacred carriers of his traditions, his beliefs, his legacy.

I then blew out his candle, signifying that his spirit had left this world and entered a new existence, but we retained the tapers as a memory of him, a piece of his heart. Each child and grandchild was also given a starfish, which signifies new life. Many of the children still have the starfish on display in their homes. Well in advance I gave much thought to what I could give to each person as a "Memory Gift" - a painting from his office, a book, a treasured paperweight, a blanket he had used. So, I then presented these gifts with little stories of where they came from or why he liked them. We sat together well into the evening as we shared stories from the treasure chests of our individual memories. It was a lovely time!

The next day, we had another ceremony as we said our final goodbye. I gave a little talk about family and the circle of love that never ends. I had ordered enough roses so that each child and grandchild could give one to their father and grandfather. They each laid a rose across his chest and when the last rose was set down, he was covered with a warm blanket of beautiful red roses, a symbol of our love.

I then told the children they could have a private moment with their father. They really liked that idea. So, each child came back into the room alone. Some had written a note and put it in his pocket. Some laid their favorite picture near his heart - a picture from a fishing trip, a childhood Christmas, a school graduation. It all worked out so beautifully. Some of the children said they never cried because it was all done with such dignity and grace. They said they had been so engrossed by the Legacy of Love, so filled with gratitude and love, that their tears were turned to smiles.

I was blessed to give them this gift, this memory, this Legacy of Love.


Contact Joy at joy@myjoytoday.com or through her Web site, My Joy Today

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...
  • Create New...