By Pat Hanson, Author of Invisible Grandparent
What is your legacy? We all pass on tangible and intangible legacies. They go far beyond ‘inheritances,’ i.e. money, stocks, or property to be distributed to whomever one wishes. They are not just the baby sweaters or smocked dresses passed down by great grandmothers, but the caring energy that went into those stitches. Some pass on a tradition of military service, political preferences, or religion. And sadly, legacy sometimes involves a cycle of family violence and physical and psychic wounds that take generations to break and heal.
From invisible to visible
When I was first embroiled in the struggles of invisible grandparenting, all I knew was that I wanted a way for the grandkids I was being kept from seeing to remember me for who I was. I wanted to pass on my values and be immortalized in some way. Even though it seemed impossible that I would ever be given that opportunity, I wrote letters to my grandkids and saved them in hopes that someday they would find me.
Find coping strategies
I also wrote letters I would never send and developed a ritual to destroy them, because I did not want to perpetuate the negative energy I was feeling about the mother who’d wiped every memory of her child’s father (my son/me) from her life. I even developed a webinar that walked people through this healing process: THE INVISIBLE GRANDPARENT’S FIRST AID KIT: How to Heal Separation, Transcend Invisibility and Leave a Legacy of Love Now.
If you’re an invisible grand, it can be very therapeutic to think about your legacy and how best to pass it on. Someday, one hopes, your grandchildren will learn a lot about you—and about themselves.
Legacy Questions To Ask Yourself
- What “do you know in your bones” that you’d like your grandkids to embody?
- Is there a tangible object that might bring your life, and all it has been till now, to a present moment somewhere in the distant future?
- Can you collect photos, postcards, artwork, music, videos or a genealogy outline that years hence might enrich your grandchildren’s heritage?
- Do you know how to preserve these electronically?
- We all have choices as to what we leave behind, what will yours be?
Dr. Pat Hanson is a seasoned health educator, public speaker, and workshop facilitator. She is the author of Invisible Grandparenting: Leave A Legacy Of Love Whether You Can Be There or Not. She lectures nationally on Aging Positively and is a columnist for the magazine: Crone: Women Coming of Age