As a physician who practices anti-aging and functional medicine, I have devoted my career to helping people live longer and create healthier lives. I have a passion for healthy living, so wellness and staying young has been my mantra.

But, in January of 2011, I experienced the sudden loss of two friends in their fifties, and a personal family tragedy that made me take a hard look at life. Sudden death wakes you up. As hard as I was working to keep people healthy and young, those closest to me were in trouble, and dying.

Then, In March of 2011, tragedy hit again. Just days after the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, and after being selected as a finalist in a competition for my teleseminar on The Family Love Letter, with author Donna Pagano, I lost my dear and feisty friend, Lynn.

Lynn had been my/our office manager for over a decade, and she died suddenly of a ruptured brain aneurysm. No warning. We said "Hello" on a Monday morning and on the following Tuesday, she was gone. I remain devastated by her loss. As do her family, coworkers friends and patients. She was the BEST.

That’s when I re-asked myself the following questions: Am I prepared to die? When I leave the planet, will there be a bunch of chaos, or will I leave a legacy for the living–of the stories, hopes, and desires for my family and future generations? Will health teleseminars really make a difference for generations to come?

Just seven days prior to Lynn’s sudden and totally unexpected death, she and I had discussed doing in-house seminars for the staff, then taking this message to our patients and the surrounding community. My financial advisor, John Roselli, agreed and we were ready to go.

But as we do not know the time or the hour, Lynn left us after a bold and courageous fight.

Just to let you know, The Family Love Letter™ is more than just a paper trail of documents such as wills and trusts, their location, and password to our email accounts. It is also a document that tells our families what our final wishes are and how we want to be remembered. It helps them sort out our personal wishes with dignity and creates order where there could be chaos. It is a vehicle for all of us to get our house in order. It's put in a Red Box that has all your important stuff, and most of all, how you want to be remembered?

So, what were Lynn’s wishes and what was her gift of life?

It seems as if her family knew only too well what Lynn wanted. She was a giver and she always did more for others than she did for herself. She loved her boss, her staff, her docs, her patients and most of all her twin sister and brother in law, her brother, her Mom and her entire family. She loved life. Oh yeah, she had stress and frustrations, like we all do, but I will never forget her awesome smile, her devotion and her love. Her patience and her sense of humor. Her love for, NCIS, “Jeopardy” and birds.

But Lynn not only gave the gift of her time, talent and trust... when it was all said and done, she gave her kidneys and she donated her body to science. And there is also a child in a third world country who is wondering why they are no longer getting a check from Lynn, which translates to food,clothing, and shelter.

Do you know the average age a woman becomes a widow? It is 56 years-old. Well, Lynn was not married, but she was only 59. Life is so short.

It’s important to be prepared for the unexpected. Whether you’re male or female, married or single, childless or a parent, creating a Family Love Letter™ involves asking yourself some very important questions. If you already know the answers, you’re a step ahead. If not, you’ll need to make some decisions. Some of the questions you should ask and answer are:

•Do you have a legacy to share?
•How have you prepared for your death? Have you made any arrangements ahead of time?
•Where is your life insurance policy? Is there more than one?
•Do you have a will?
•Has the next of kin been decided?
•What are the passwords and security codes to your bank accounts, e-mail, etc?
•Do you prefer a funeral or cremation? Will you donate your organs or your body to science?
•Do you have a blended family, with past marriages and stepchildren?

These are all real concerns that must be addressed as you put together your family love letter. We do not know the time or the hour, but we do know one thing. Each of us will leave a legacy. The question is whether it will be a legacy of confusion or one of information.

Remember, we all get a birth certificate and a death certificate, but what happens between our birth and death defines our legacy. Lynn's legacy will live on with the two recipients of her kidneys and with the information that a new generation of doctors will use to become the best doctors they can be.

I'm sure all recipients will experience Lynn’s love for life, which she has now shared, forever. They will know what her friends and family have known for a long time. Lynn lived her life for others and she was loved.

"I love you Lynn and thank you for making me a better doctor"

Creating your Family Love Letter ™will be the best gift you could ever give your family and generations to come. Do it today. Do it Now.

For donations to Lynn's Kids:
Huntington Woods Lutheran Church
12935 West Eleven Mile road
Huntington Woods, Michigan 48070

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Cynthia Shelby-Lane, MD is a board certified, anti-aging and functional medicine specialist, emergency physician, comedienne and talk show host who believes “laughter is good medicine”. Dr. Shelby-Lane has been seen and heard on local, state and national television and radio talk shows, educating Americans on a variety of medical issues.

Receive the special report "7 Anti-Aging secrets for Staying Young & Living Longer" provided by Dr. Cynthia Shelby-Lane at