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Bettina Brickell was 29 years old when she died. This letter to her family and friends was read at her memorial service.

Dear Friends and Loved Ones,

  As I contemplated this memorial service, I felt great gratitude in my heart that each of you would be here to say goodbye to me. Many of you have shared your warmth, kindness, and love with me during these last months. I want to say thank you and goodbye and share with you the lessons I’ve learned through my dying.

I have profoundly experienced that love is all that matters. Like many people, I occasionally got caught in my pettiness and separation, thinking I knew the right answer. I judged others and I have judged myself even more harshly. But I have learned that we carry within ourselves the abundant wisdom and love to heal our weary heart and judgmental mind.

During the time of my illness, I have loved more deeply. My heart feels as if it has exploded. I do not carry anger. I feel we are all doing the best we can. Judging others closes the heart and when one is dying, that is a waste of precious sharing. Life is how we stand in relationship to both ourselves and to others. Loving and helping each other are all that is important.

We are in the fall season. I feel privileged to die as the leaves fall from the trees. There is a naturalness to the cycle of life and death and for whatever reason, it is my time to die, even though I am young. It is okay. It is right and natural. Life is not about how long we live, but about how we live, and I have had a good life. I accept my dying as part of the wondrous process of life.

My sadness is in leaving you. I’ll miss the deep comfort and love of gently waking up in my husband Peter’s arms, giving up our dreams of future years together. I’ll miss the sunny days of fishing with my dad, of sharing with my mom her love of life and cosmopolitan savoir-faire. I’ll miss giggling with my sister, Maria, over life’s impasses. How appreciative I feel when I think of my brother Michael’s faith in and encouragement of me …

As I lay dying, I think of all of you, each special in your own way, that I have loved and shared this life with. I reluctantly give up walking on this beautiful planet, where every step is a prayer. The glistening sun on the trees, the sound of a brook as it makes its way down the mountain, the serenity and beauty of a gentle snowfall, sitting at the rim of a Utah canyon and catching a glimpse of eternity — these are the things I have loved.

Please do not think I have lost a battle with cancer, for I have won the challenge of life. I have shared unconditional love. I have opened to the mystery of Spirit and feel that divinity is all around us every day and provides us with a path on which our spirit may take flight.

Chief Crazy Horse said upon his final battle, “It is a good day to die because all the things of my life are present.” That is how I feel as I think of the abundance, adventure, opportunity and love in my life.

When you think of me, know that my spirit has taken flight and that I loved you.

With my love,


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This sample of an Ethical Will/Legacy Letter is provided courtesy of Barry Baines of Celebrations of Life. To view more samples, go to