A few words of caution
For most, writing an ethical will feels like a rewarding act of love for family and friends or a spiritual experience. There are some, however, for whom such work — if done at all — needs to be supported by a counselor, therapist, or other trusted and skilled help.
An extreme example: people who have committed heinous acts in their lives do not necessarily benefit from re-viewing their lives. Even if such a person has changed course, and in the present is living a much different life, a fragile recovery effort can easily be overwhelmed. Others, who are suffering from significant mental illness such as major depression, may also be overwhelmed.
If you have any mental health issues or have lived through horrifying, traumatic events, please do not do the personal introspection necessary for an ethical will — at least not until you have discussed it with your supportive counselor, therapist, clergy person or social worker, etc, and they assure you of their ongoing support and assistance.
If you find yourself at any time feeling worse about something as a result of your work on your ethical will, stop, and seek some help from a skilled supporter.
When looking backward in preparation for “writing forward,” sometimes some uncomfortable or somewhat painful memories or feelings can emerge. Most of us can take them in stride and continue on our path. Take care of yourself. Do not push yourself. There is no point being generous toward others by behaving so unkindly toward ourselves!
There are often opportunities to work on ethical wills in groups of friends or other forms of community — and the support inherent in those groups can often smooth the path to completion for everyone. Take advantage of these opportunities when you can! You are likely to get a lot out of the shared experience.