Even if you have made a point to regularly tell your family members and friends how much they mean to you, when a loved one dies, especially when it is sudden and unexpected, we wish we could tell them that we love them just one more time. We yearn desperately for one more conversation with them, one more gesture of love from them that would help us to say goodbye, that would offer healing and closure.
Now turn the tables. You have the power and the opportunity to comfort your loved ones and ease their grief when death comes calling for you. How? Write a letter now and label it “Open this in the event of my death.” I have written such a letter to my daughter and have told her where she can find it on my computer should the day come when it is time for her to read it.
Imagine your loved one opening and reading your letter after your passing. The gratitude, love and peace of mind your letter will bestow upon them is more valuable than a trunk full of gold. They will cherish that letter as long as they live, just as they will cherish the very thought of you.
Your letter can be as long or as short as you’d like; even a few sentences can have an enormous impact. The quality of the writing is irrelevant. All that matters is the love behind the words; write from your heart and you cannot go wrong. There is no greater gift you can bequeath to those you love.
UPDATE: After reading this post, a woman e-mailed me to share this beautiful story:
Before my ex-husband died, I suggested that he write a letter for our son. He could not use his hands very well, so I offered to write down his words and then type them up for him to sign. He was very relieved to be able to leave something permanent and tangible for Christopher. We worked on his letter for several days. Connecting with him over our love for our son was a deeply healing experience for both of us, and I will always cherish that memory.
When we finished the letter to Christopher, he said that he wanted to write more letters. So we spent the next three weeks writing letters to his family and closest friends . . . twenty-one in all. This experience was intimate and completing for both of us. We reminisced about how he knew these people, when he met them, how important they were to him, why he loved them. He told his family he was proud of them, who they were, what they accomplished. I would write down a short letter for each person (George was a man of few words), type them up and put them in envelopes ready to mail out.
The letter writing allowed George to say his goodbyes in a way that honored and supported the people he loved. He was able to keep his dignity during a very emotionally charged time. And, it really helped prepare him to let go of this life; he felt at peace, and he did the best he could to complete his life. My son is very grateful that he has the letter from his father. It reassures and helps him through the grieving process. It reminds him that he is still loved by his father.
Reading your blog post has inspired me to begin writing a letter to my mother. She is in good health at eighty-eight years, and I want to celebrate her now while she is alive and still enjoying her life. The process will allow me to sort through my relationship with her, bring up issues to clear, let me love her (and myself) more fully, and then share how much she means to me and what she has accomplished and given over her life. Thank you for being the catalyst and inspiration for my next spiritual adventure.
What a wonderful testament to the power of this simple act. Please, for your own sake and the sake of your loved ones, start writing your letters today. If you’re not comfortable writing, then sit in front of your computer or phone and record a brief video. Please don’t make the mistake of leaving this world without leaving something for your loved ones to remember you by.
Click here to view all my posts on writing letters and notes to loved ones.
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ABOUT PHIL BOLSTA
Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, is a road map for living a more peaceful, beautiful life. It’s the one book that explains how dozens of spiritual principles interact, how to weave them together into a cohesive worldview, and how to practically apply this spiritual wisdom to daily life.
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