Leaving a legacy without children

By Victoria Fryer 

A couple of weeks ago, my stepdad’s father (whom I’ll call ‘G’) died, and we stopped into the viewing to pay our respects to his family. Right inside the door, they had on display several posters of photographs from G’s life—he had three children, including my stepdad, and several grandchildren as well. I thought to myself, ‘What a legacy to leave behind.’

As people stood around the funeral home sharing memories of G, I started to think, ‘What will people say about me when I pass away? What will my legacy be?’ Here are a couple of ways I came up with to ensure I’m making some kind of impact on the world despite not having children.

• Record your family’s history
Taking some time to research your extended family’s origins and sharing the stories of your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and more can be of incredible value to your living extended family. Websites like can be a great resource, as can local libraries in areas where your family lived.

• Count your career
It’s so easy, on tough days at the office, to feel like we’re not having any impact on the organization, or to go home wondering why we do what we do every day when there might be easier ways to make a paycheck. But if you truly care about your work and have the ability to make a difference through that, don’t count it out as your legacy. I believe that we can be remembered for the good work that we do.

• Use the time you have
Speaking of good work, it doesn’t all have to revolve around a career, of course. You can make a huge difference in the world around you through volunteer work. Maybe you care deeply about the homeless population in your city, or you want to help stray dogs and cats find “furever” homes. Make use of any extra time you might have to provide hands-on help in the areas that touch you.

• Leave behind a charitable contribution to an organization you care about
My husband and I had several arguments about life insurance after we first got married. I didn’t think we needed as much as he did, because I knew we weren’t having children. I thought, ‘Why have life insurance if we don’t have anyone for it to go to after we die?’ But there are plenty of ways that money can be put to good use if we set up legacy contributions to organizations that we care about. I have a passion for animals, and it means a lot to me that anything we have left over after we die can go toward, for example, helping our local animal shelter care for and re-home unwanted pets.

As Ray Bradbury writes in his novel, Fahrenheit 451, “It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.”

Victoria Fryer is a 31-year-old writer and content strategist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two pit bulls. You can find her on Twitter @extoria.

Speak Your Mind

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap