The musical “Hamilton” is filled with incredible songs. In fact, that’s a large part of why it gained popularity so soon after its debut. It put a fresh spin on a critical part of American history. It shared the legacy of the American Revolution not through the eyes of George Washington but a founding father we often forget: Alexander Hamilton.
Despite the number of incredible tunes within the show, one song has always resonated with me. After Hamilton’s death, the musical ends with the cast coming together to sing “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story.” The song’s theme deals with legacy, a concept many people only start thinking about when we lose someone we love.
What It Means To Tell My Partner’s Story
After my partner, Emily died unexpectedly at just 26 years old, her legacy was one of the first thoughts that crossed my mind after the initial shock wore off.
Would her story simply end? She was just 26 — she had so much left to do for the world. There’s no way her legacy could end now.
Thoughts like these consumed me, and I quickly started looking for ways to become her Eliza. I wanted to continue the legacy my beloved partner had created.
But what does it mean to tell someone else’s story? What does continuing their legacy look like?
For me, telling Emily’s story provides solace during one of the most challenging times in my life. Even though she’s no longer physically with us, I can keep her alive by sharing information about her with others. By telling her story, I can still encourage positive changes in the world, just like she did when she was alive.
I feel this work is important and am honored to do it. I have connected with so many people and heard other stories, which adds to the experience.
How to Continue Your Spouse’s Legacy After Their Death
There are many things I’ve done and plan to do to continue my partner’s legacy for my remaining time here on Earth. I think any of these suggestions can help keep your spouse’s spirit and memory alive, regardless of how much time has passed since their departure.
1. Keep Photos Around Your Home
Photos are great ways to preserve memories of the past. These preserved memories become even more critical when people die because it puts the happy moments you shared on display so you can recall them at any time. It also provides opportunities to share stories with friends and family members who visit your home, creating a lasting legacy about your person.
2. Talk About Them With Others
Over the past seven months, I have learned a lot about grief and common misconceptions about what helps people process catastrophic loss. One of my main takeaways is this: talking about the people we loved and lost is highly beneficial. It’s good to do in the early days of grief, and it can keep their story going for decades after their death.
Personally, I’ve talked about Emily with people who knew her, like friends and family members. I’ve also shared stories about her with people who didn’t know her, like the other participants in my spousal loss support group. I even started a blog called “Because of Emily” to share stories about her. It’s been incredibly positive and let me memorialize her in ways she’d appreciate.
3. Continue Their Legacy Projects or Bucket List
Bucket lists and long-term projects are standard parts of most people’s lives. However, nothing says these things must halt when the person pursuing them dies suddenly. As a widowed spouse, you can keep your partner’s spirit alive and create lasting memories for yourself by completing these projects on their behalf.
4. Volunteer or Donate to Causes They Supported
We all have causes we are passionate about. Supporting those causes is another excellent way to keep a spouse’s story going because it allows you to volunteer or donate in their memory. In fact, it can even be a way for the whole family to step up and take action.
Since my partner was an organ donation recipient, I decided to sign up as an ambassador for Donate Life and Tennessee Donor Services in memory of Emily. This has allowed me to spread the word about organ donation, share personal pieces of Emily, and hopefully save other lives. My children have even helped with some of the events, and it’s an excellent way for us all to honor Emily.
When people die, their story doesn’t end unless we let it. And, in my case, I refuse to let Emily’s spirit fade away. It was much too brilliant to snuff out with her final breath. She had her entire life ahead of her and many plans for the impression she would leave on this Earth. She would have built a lasting legacy if she’d had the chance.
Being a widow is sad and often isolating. However, I firmly believe as long as we’re all willing to cling to those pieces of our beloved partners that we each carry, our spouses will always be here with us.