How to Write the Letter of Your Life

Aug 29, 2013

There's a saying about death and one's possessions that goes "You can't take it with you."

Leah Dobkin's "Legacy Letters" help pass along the memories and wisdom we accumulate throughout life.
Credit Legacy Letters

Well, that also applies to less tangible valuables - like your memories and stories. But what if you could pass along all the wisdom you've learned over the years? 

Shorewood-based reporter Leah Dobkin believes in the rush of an increasingly fast-paced world, it's harder to pass this kind of information between the generations. So she's started a new project to help people of all ages to compose "Legacy Letters" for their loved ones. 

In these so-called ethical wills, Dobkin interviews each person to help them sort through their memories and decide what wisdom to pass along. Then, she helps them compose the letter, which can range from one paragraph to 10 pages long, and can be recorded and videotaped.

Dobkin says writing these letters isn't always an easy process, but it is worth it.

"Everybody has a story, everybody has developed wisdom in their life that's important to share with others, yet they feel self conscious," she says.

Dobkin is also a former reporter for Milwaukee Magazine, and author of the book Soul of a Port: The History and Evolution of the Port of Milwaukee, published by The History Press.

Note: This interview originally aired on April 20, 2011.