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Building a Resilient Legacy: An Interview with Kimberly Harms on Shaping Purpose, Grief Management and Emotional Insurance

Building a Resilient Legacy: An Interview with Kimberly Harms on Shaping Purpose, Grief Management and Emotional Insurance
Photo Courtesy: Dr. Kimberly Harms

By: Michael Beas – Atlas Elite Publishing

Every one of us leaves a distinct mark—a legacy that goes well beyond our physical presence. However, how can we make sure that our legacy is one that will be treasured? This important subject is examined by author Kimberly Harms in her book “Are You Ready?: How to Build a Legacy to Die For.” She offers her thoughts and helpful guidance on facing mortality, making plans for the future, and leaving a legacy that really counts in this insightful conversation.

Legacy documents such as wills and health care directives are typically discussed, but you also mention an emotional life insurance plan. Can you elaborate on what this entails and why it’s important? 

We need to develop an emotional insurance plan for our survivors to help them survive and thrive after we die. How do we do that? First of all, we need to talk about death and how to manage grief. We need to determine our legacy to them, get our affairs in order, apologize, forgive, reconcile, and write or tape a legacy love message to view after our death. In doing so we can assist those we love to spend less time in the grief pit, and help them think of us sooner with joy in our memory rather than sadness at our loss. This gift of resilience itself may be our greatest legacy ever!. 

How do you suggest readers approach the task of writing legacy letters and reconciliation letters, as outlined in your workbook?

We do not know our expiration date, so it is important for us to be prepared at any time. Letters written to our children and grandchildren and anyone else important in our lives will verify, even after we die, that they are loved and that you are proud of them and any other affirmations you have. These letters are really the last word as your survivors can’t talk back to you so the letters are not the place to bring up old wounds. They should be written in the spirit of grace and love and included as a part of your legacy folder or binder. For those who do not like to write, I have included handy templates to help them. 

What advice do you have for individuals who may find it challenging to confront their mortality and plan? 

One thing we know is that death is a certainty. For those who are afraid death, planning for this certainty can alleviate some of the anxiety they might be feeling by giving them a sense of control and empowerment. By making sure their healthcare wishes are respected, their assets are distributed according to their plan and the burden on their loved ones will be lightened are proactive steps they can take now to ease their anxiety and open up a discussion with their loved ones about the future. 

Can you share any personal anecdotes or experiences that influenced the content of your book?

My favorite story is the one that assured me that my preparation tactics were working. I frequently talk about Pop Pop to my grandchildren and occasionally remind them that at some point I will be gone as well. A few months ago, my granddaughter, Heidi, sitting at the kitchen counter while I prepared dinner asked me, very seriously, “Nana, if what happened to Pop Pop happens to you….” Then she trailed off unable to complete the sentence. “ Do you mean if I die” I asked? “Yes, Nana if you were to die…..” She trailed off again, unsure if she wanted to continue. “Go on honey,” I said, realizing that Heidi was struggling with an important concept involving death and that his might potentially be a breakthrough moment. Heidi sighed “Well, Nana, if you died”. Again she hesitated but got the courage to continue, “Nana if you died… could we still go on the Disney Cruise?” Haha!! I assured her that YES! I would want her to embrace life with all she had and would definitely want her to go on the Disney Cruise we had planned as a family even if I were to die. 

Why do you believe it’s essential for individuals to actively consider and build their legacies?

I believe that building a legacy for your loved ones is one of the most joyful experiences you can have. It requires you to think outside of your own needs, it gives you a sense of purpose and is the best cure ever for the loneliness and isolation that can occur in your later years.

Learn more about Dr. Kimberly Harms’ work visiting her website

Published by: Holy Minoza

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