Teacher’s last act of kindness inspires others to think about their legacy


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Tammy Waddell’s final wish to help students in need has struck a chord with people all over the world.

How do you want to be remembered? The story of one teacher’s final wishes has inspired thousands of people online to reflect on what it means to leave a legacy, after mourners were asked to donate school supplies to students in her memory.

Tammy Waddell, a teacher in Georgia, USA, died from cancer earlier this month, aged just 58. Family, friends, teachers and students gathered at her funeral to remember her. But instead of giving traditional funeral flowers and floral tributes, mourners were asked to donate rucksacks of school supplies to students in need.

Dr. Brad Johnson, Ms Waddell’s cousin, shared a photograph of the funeral home on Twitter, with rucksacks full of supplies lining the aisle. The donated equipment will be distributed through Project Connect, a Georgia-based organisation helping local students who cannot afford essential school supplies.  

“My cousin’s final request at her funeral was backpacks full of supplies for needy students instead of flowers,” he tweeted. “A teacher to the end.”

Donating to a charity as an alternative to funeral flowers has become more popular in recent years, with some families using donation websites to raise money for a special cause close to their loved one’s heart. The unique idea of sending backpacks as an alternative to funeral flowers has inspired people across the internet. Dr. Johnson’s photo has received thousands of likes and retweets, with strangers from around the world sending their condolences.  

The story has also prompted people to think about their own legacy and see planning their own funeral in a new light. One commenter replied: “That is amazing. First time ever I’ve made a plan for my funeral…the only time I’ve ever heard something good enough to make note.”

Another said: “This inspires me to come up with something similar, tell my loved ones and put it in my will.”

If you want to have a say in what your final farewell will be like – and how you’ll be remembered – you can make a record of personal requests when you buy an Avalon Funeral Plan. All the details will be passed along to the funeral director at the time of need, so you can rest assured that you’ll be leaving the legacy you want.

Find out more about Avalon’s range of funeral plans, or build your own bespoke funeral plan.


About the author

With a Masters from the University of Bristol, Jessica Hanson has worked in the funeral sector for several years, following the latest industry trends and writing about end of life planning. Jessica has previously written as a blogger for the Huffington Post, covering topics such as death positivity, understanding grief and how funerals are changing. You can find Jessica on LinkedIn and Twitter.