Leaving behind important memories | Cancer Research UK
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Leaving behind important memories

Coping with cancer

Read about sorting out unfinished business and leaving behind memories when you are dying. There is information about


Things you may want to do

Most people have a will which states who should receive their money and possessions when they die. But many people who know that they are dying also have other unfinished business that they would like to take care of. This may mean

  • Sorting out problems with personal relationships
  • Visiting certain places
  • Buying gifts for people
  • Going through your personal belongings
  • Giving special things away to family and friends
  • Seeing a spiritual or religious leader

Leaving behind memories

Leaving your loved ones some very special memories and thoughts can be very important. This may be especially true if you have very young children who grow up without remembering many aspects of your time with them.

Some people like to record a CD, video, or DVD of themselves for their children. You might want to let your children and loved ones know exactly how you feel about them and mention some special times you spent together. You may even want to give them messages for their future life. This can be kept to show children when they are older.

You might find it easier to write letters to your loved ones. You may also want to use a letter to resolve conflict or difficulties with other people in your life before you die. If you can’t get to see them, writing a letter can help. Some people like to put together a memory box with momentoes for children. 

Keeping a diary or a blog (online journal) gives you the chance to write about feelings and events that are important to you. You can add sections about your life and what you have achieved, your travels, your work, and hobbies. You might like to leave this behind for your loved ones as a memory of your life.

Don’t feel that you have to do any of these things. Some people don’t feel the need to. You might worry that leaving messages behind after you die may be too hard for your family and friends to handle. Everyone is different and there are no rules about how you should feel and what you want to do. You can do what is right for you and what you feel able to do.


For more information

Find out about

Your will

Practical issues - funerals, wills and finances

Supporting children

Supporting a partner

For general information and support

Contact the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040 (Open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)

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Updated: 11 May 2016