Meditating on what legacy we would want to leave behind is an important way to check back in with our priorities in life.
Several years ago, my friend and Relief Society president concluded a year-long process of ministering to a terminally ill sister in our ward. For her first Sunday lesson following the funeral, my friend gave inspired counsel—things she learned during the final days of this less-active sister's life.
There were several powerful takeaways from her lesson, but the one that touched me the most was the suggestion to write last words for your loved ones. The Spirit confirmed to me the importance of this exercise.
That said, I dreaded what I knew would be an emotionally taxing experience. But after a good, long, ugly cry my task was complete. Since then I've had another baby, so I sat down recently and wrote last words for my youngest son. While it's a solemn topic, I know that it can be a wonderful spiritual experience. I would like to share five reasons why you should consider writing last words for your own loved ones.
1. A PATTERN AFTER THE PROPHETS
When you start to look for them, you will find last words all throughout the scriptures. Here are a couple examples:
Nephi finished his record with this message: “I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus…hearken unto these words and believe in Christ…for they are the words of Christ.” (1)
In Ether, we read, “Now the last words which are written by Ether are these: Whether the Lord will that I be translated, or that I suffer the will of the Lord in the flesh, it mattereth not, if it so be that I am saved in the kingdom of God.” (2)
Even Sherem, who was not a prophet but the first anti-Christ in the Book of Mormon, had last words to share with the people before he passed away. “Gather together on the morrow, for I shall die; wherefore, I desire to speak unto the people…and he spake plainly unto them…and confessed the Christ, and the power of the Holy Ghost, and the ministering of angels.” (3)
While journals, family and personal histories, and other documents are valuable in recording and expressing your beliefs and personal feelings for your loved ones, there is something remarkable about leaving a deliberate, final message for your family that, in essence, says, “This is what it all comes down to; this is what's most important.” If the prophets (and others) in the scriptures were impressed to leave last words and teachings for the benefit of others, we can, too.