Dignity Therapy is the process of creating a legacy document; the story of a person’s life as told by her/him.

It is common to feel helpless when dealing with a serious illness. One way to increase a sense of control over our lives is with a process known as Dignity Therapy. In Dignity Therapy, a person creates a legacy document, the story of a person’s life as told by her/him. Rigorous evaluation has shown this clinically proven process to be extremely beneficial to both patients and their families.

How do I create a legacy document?
Our Oncology Chaplain meets with you and through a series of several questions invites you to recall events, relationships, feelings and philosophies; memories of some of the most important experiences that happened in your life. The conversation is recorded and transcribed/edited and reviewed with you. The resulting story belongs solely to you: you may give it to family, friends, or whomever you choose.

How do I start?
Ask someone on your clinical team to place a referral to our Oncology Chaplain.

Is this really “therapy”? It sounds like storytelling!
This is “dignity-conserving care,” which is a conversation with patients highlighting reflections on our lives, stories we’ve told (or not told) as well as hopes/wishes for our loved ones and thoughts we wish to share. By asking simple questions, patients seem to focus and share these experiences gladly.

How long does it take?
Not long at all... the first meeting is about 15 minutes to explain the process and provide the questions for you to review and reflect on.

If the decision to move forward is made, another meeting is arranged for the audio-recorded interview which usually lasts about 60 minutes. Within a week, another session is scheduled for review and then final approval of your document. The entire process takes about 1-2 weeks.

What are examples of some questions asked during the interview?

  • Tell me a little about your life, the parts that you may remember most, or are the most important. When did you most feel alive?
  • What makes you feel most proud?
  • Are there things that you would want your family to know about you? What do you want them to remember?
  • What are your hopes and dreams for your loved ones?
  • What have you learned about life that you would want to pass along to others? What advice or guidance?