Many People Can Ease Grief By Writing A Letter


Recently, American poet Donald Hall died at the age of 89.  Writing was part of his DNA. Hall wrote poetry, memoirs, plays, short stories, magazine articles and children’s books.

But he also wrote letters.

Donald Hall wrote two books were about the painful experience he had dealing with the death of his wife, poet Jane Kenyon.  Hall confessed that he wrote “her letters after her death.  And writing her letters after her death gave me the only sort of happiness of the day.  I felt in communication with her somehow, not supernaturally, but poetically.”

But you don’t have to be a poet laureate to feel the release of grief by writing to a loved one.  Janet sent me a letter at 1:15 this morning.  It’s a beautiful letter to her father.  And the beauty is that she can continue to write him letters and feel the comfort of him whenever she needs to quiet her tears.

Thank you, Janet, for sharing your letter:

Dear Dad,

It’s been eight years since you’ve gone.  But it never gets easier for me.  I miss you so very much.  You are the best dad ever.  No one can ever love me like you.  Your death has totally changed me and my life.  I miss every moment we spent together.  I wish you didn’t have to go.  It makes me very sad when I see that you aren’t with my during the important events of my life like my graduation ceremony.  I want you to see how much I’ve grown up.  Your little daughter isn’t small anymore.  But I’ll always be your princess.  I love and miss you to the moon and back.  I long to meet you again.

— Your little girl. XXXXXXXXXXXX

If you would like to share a letter and encourage others to do the same, please send your letter to


A Letter From Reece

This came across my desk a while ago.  I thought it was a beautiful letter and wanted to share it.  This shows that a letter doesn’t have to be written by a poet or professional author.  This shows that a letter doesn’t have to be physically delivered to the intended recipient.  Little Reece says it all in a few words and a lot of XXXs.  I know this warmed his mother’s heart in Heaven.

Reece’s letter

In case you can’t read it from the picture, here’s the content of the letter:

To mommy

I love you a million times around the world and back.  I wish you didn’t have to die.  I remember playing with you and that made me happy.  I know you are an angel now Mommy and you can see me all the time.  I feel sad but I’m going to be brave.

Love from Reece

If you need help writing your own letter, click on the link at the top menu bar: HOW TO WRITE YOUR OWN LETTER.  Or contact me personally at


Glen Campbell’s Wife Writes An Open Letter In Response To His Death

Back in the 1980s I was fortunate enough to meet Glen Campbell in person–in a green room before an interview.  He had his guitar and asked me to sing with him.  Now, EVERYONE knows EVERY word of EVERY song of Glen Campbell’s, but I was so nervous I couldn’t remember many.  I was so embarrassed, but Glen was very gracious.  In this link, Kim Campbell writes her letter.

I hope Kim’s letter inspires others to do the same for their loved ones.  Someone I love is beginning to experience dementia as well.  It’s a tough thing to watch someone slowly loose who they used to be.

Kim and Glen Campbell courtesy of

Kim and Glen Campbell courtesy of

My last letter to Kim

It’s been one year since I wrote my last letter to my college friend, Kim.  It’s taken me one whole year to post it.  Now I understand why some people don’t want me to post their letters–it’s very personal.  It’s very vulnerable.  It seems so inadequate and I don’t want the world to know how inadequate I am.  But if I’m asking others to share, then I should as well.  This is a tribute to a woman who was strong and thoughtful and smart and sassy and classy and so much more.  I hope my sharing of this letter will encourage others to share their feelings in writing so that opportunities to tell people we love them won’t be lost because we are too “scared” to do so.

Dear Kim:Kim

Forgive me for impersonally typing a deeply personal letter, but I have so many thoughts I want to get out quickly and typing is my best way to do that.

I’m thinking back to the first time I saw you in college. In our pledge class, I was sort of intimidated by you because you were so self-assured, poised and smart! You spoke your mind with confidence and everyone could tell that you were a thinking woman and someone to be respected. But you were also warm and fun-loving. I felt special that you included me with your ‘gang’ in the Rho Sigma Club in our chapter room and with your family’s poker nights.

As we’d meet on and off through the years, I’d always come away feeling like I was a better person for being around you. You made me think harder and deeper about important things than anyone else. I still (to this day) feel a little intimidated by your mind’s bright thoughts.

Something that has bothered me for a very long time, and I never knew how to bring it up was that for a few years, we fell out of touch. I missed being a support to you when you could’ve used a hug. I’m not even sure how we got back in touch, but I’m glad we did. And, of course, this past year we’ve gotten even closer. The good thing about that is that my husband has gotten to know yours better and has grown to care about him very, very much.

Every time I have a dream, I wish I could discuss it’s meaning with you. I remember when we were discussing my childhood dream in your home and you brought out meaning that I couldn’t figure out. Even if I asked you to tell me a step-by-step method of analyzing my own dreams, I’m sure I couldn’t find the meaning that you can. I guess that’s what years of specialized training does for a person!

And I love that you and (your husband) find meaning and spirituality in ceremony. As I was doing tai chi this morning I was thinking of what you may be doing and thinking right now. I felt connected to you and the world and thinking that there are so many things in this Universe that we don’t understand. And maybe that’s OK. As I “waved hands like clouds” I breathed in and gave thanks to the Universe that you are in my life. I gave thanks that there is a continuity of life and, as I think I told you once, I feel that we are all connected like the great Aspen groves are connected underground, sight unseen, to make up the largest living organism in the world. As we say during the grand terminus: Bring Heaven to Earth.

This letter so inadequately expresses my feelings. Such is the failure of language. But I am a better person for knowing you, and I thank you for that.

Love. Love. Love.


If you feel compelled to share a goodbye letter, please use the contact form listed on this site.

A Farewell Tribute To A Furry Friend

Sometimes–often times–our best friends are of the non-human variety.  While we love our pets and cherish them during their time with us, many of us realize the enormity of their companionship only after they are gone.  Big or small, four legs or two, furry or feathered or scaled, animals make the world and our lives better simply by being themselves.

One friend of mine expressed her sadness in a poem which she generously allowed me to share with you here:

 Little Jasmine

In the blink of an eye, my littlest love is gone and can’t be replaced.
With her white silky hair and picture perfect face, she tried to teach
me that life isn’t a race.
I was so focused on her noise and her constant demands.                                            Little did I realize how much I’d miss the attention she commands.

A little tiny girl full of life love and play,                                                                             She loved her mommy until the end of her day.

I miss your morning kisses and being followed around.                                                         I miss having you as an alarm clock and your watchdog sound.
I miss your excitement while I was making your food. I miss being kissed by your tiny face and cute little nose.                                                                                                             It was you that kept me on my toes.

I miss carrying you to bed and finding you on my shoulder in the night.                               I didn’t realize how much you were my guiding light.

I wish you were with us, it’s so empty now.                                                                 Thank you for the 10 years of being my biggest fan, little baby and pal.

If only I would have focused on appreciating you more.                                                       I wish I could come home and see you waiting by the door.

Jasmine, the little girl that I will always adore.

Little Jasmine


Write a letter to your loved one–animal or human–and share it.  If you would like to share it with the world, please send it to me and I will post it with your permission.

As our children graduate, now is the perfect time to write them a letter.

A lot of young people have just graduated from high school or college and are headed off into the big world–whether it’s on to work or college or the military or marriage and family or other adventures life brings.  But with a wave of wistful nostalgia, many parents think back on their little children astounded that they have grown into amazing young adults so fast.  And while most parents are saddened to see their children fly the nest, we are also happy because that is the way of life.

Photo courtesy of Omar Franco

Photo courtesy of Omar Franco

One such mother shared a letter with me that she wrote to her daughter upon graduation.  The letter itself is beautiful and full of loving detail, but the daughter’s response was sweet as well–giving her mother a hug.  I believe this letter from mother to daughter may have more impact on the child as she grows into a young woman and, perhaps, has children of her own.

And the beauty of a letter is that it can be cherished and re-read over and over finding new meaning and importance in the words as the reader changes with time and experience.

Here is the letter:

My dear daughter:


Words cannot begin to describe how proud I am of you.  When we decided to bring our second child into the world we didn’t do this lightly.  As parents, we want a perfect world for our kids, but know this is not reality.  You have become a very giving, caring, awesome young lady and this world will be so much better off with you in it.  You can make this world a better place!


You have always been brave and a leader.  In preschool, your teacher told me after playtime you had no problem telling the other kids that “This goes here and put that there.”  Your braveness was evident with you never being bashful to ask for things.  For example, when you were three years old at McDonald’s you would go ask the cashier to exchange your toy if it wasn’t the one you had wanted.


I learn from you every day.  I find myself coming to you for advice often, and you always have it!  You are an amazing, caring person who always looks out for the little guy.


College starts in a few months, and it will be an exciting new chapter in your life.  It will be an opportunity to explore who you are and discover what you want to be.  Success is not measured by the money you make but by the goodness you do for others.


Pursue your dreams, look to God for guidance and enjoy life my sweet daughter!


I love you with all my heart,

Love Mom


I hope you feel encouraged to write a letter to your child or loved one.  If you would like to share you letter, please contact me at

Don’t Wait To Write–A Personal Story

I have a long time friend who was dying of cancer.  In fact, she passed away just this morning.  She was doing better and we thought she would pull through, but two weeks ago she took a drastic turn for the worst.  I stopped by to visit her several times.  I brought over food.  I sent positive text messages to her and her husband.  But really, at the beginning of all this I thought to myself, “what can I do for my friend?”


Photo courtesy of AudreyJM529/Flickr

In spite of this blog, it took me a while to think about writing her a letter.  When I did think of writing her, I was nervous.  My friend is so brilliant and introspective, and thoughtful and dynamic.  I wasn’t sure what to write.  Just as many of you are unsure.  But I followed my steps about how to write a letter and I did it.  And, the last step–giving it to your loved one–was hard.  Because my letter wasn’t really very good.  It didn’t say anything earth-shaking.  It seemed so inadequate.

But the point is that I DID write the letter and I DID give it to her.  My friend read it when I left the room;  when I returned and as I was leaving she said, “thank you.”  That was enough.

I’m glad I didn’t wait to write the letter and deliver it.  The next time I saw my friend, even though she was to live a while longer, she would not have been capable of reading my letter because she was too weak.  Someone could have read it to her, but then she would miss making her observation to me, “I especially like the letterhead.”  (I had typed it on business stationery!)  And I would’ve missed that last loving, sassy remark from my friend.

I’m glad I didn’t wait to write the letter and deliver it.  Now I feel a peace knowing that she knew for certain how important she is/was to me, how she inspired me.

I’m glad I didn’t wait to write the letter and deliver it.  One never knows what tomorrow will bring.

I encourage you to write a letter to your loved one.  To your mother for Mother’s Day.  To your son who is graduating.  To your daughter who is leaving your family and starting her own.

I will share my letter (as bush-league as it is) in a later post.

Touching Letter From Grandmother With Dementia To Tomás

This letter came in and had to be translated.  I hope the translation does justice to the original sentiment.  It certainly makes me feel the special bond this grandmother and her grandson share and the pain she feels knowing that she has early onset dementia.

Grandmother-Grandson photo courtesy of Serif Salama and

Grandmother-Grandson photo courtesy of Serif Salama and


Mi nieto Tomás,

Mi pequeño niño dulce. My sweet little child.

I am going away. I will still be with you but I won’t know it. And you won’t know the real me because I am going away in my mind. It makes me very sad to know that I won’t be around to watch my little grandson grow up and become a man. It makes me very sad to know that you won’t know the person that I am and you will only remember me as a shell of who I really am.

I love to dance. I love to sing, but even though I can’t sing very well, that doesn’t stop me. I love to work in my garden. Chayote is my favorite, but I like tomatoes and chilies and the smell of the dirt. Do you remember when you were even smaller than you are now when we grew carrots from the tops? Or singing “bate bate chocolate” as we cooked?

Bate bate chocolate,

Con arroz y con tomate

Uno, dos, tres, CHO!

Uno, dos, tres, CO!

Uno, dos, tres, LA!

Uno, dos, tres TE!

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!

We had fun together, you and I. Teasing Abuelo when he couldn’t find us playing escondidas. You always make me smile. I know that won’t change.

I know you will grow up to be a good man. Today you are kind and happy and thoughtful. You are gentle with your baby sister. You love your family. Nurture these things and you will live a happy life.

There’s no walking away from destiny and this is mine. Just know I love you with all my heart.


Father’s Day Letter From Janie

Janie contacted me about how to write her own Goodbye Letter.  She followed the outline provided here and wrote a beautiful letter to her father.  She wrote it around Father’s Day, but just now was willing to share it.  Thank you for your courage, Janie.  Your letter will inspire others to do the same.

Photo by emdot and courtesy of

Photo by emdot and courtesy of

Hi, Dad!

My first memory of you was when you were flying me on your feet. You are laying on the shag carpet on your back and you are wiggling your bare toes under my belly as your legs fly me around. You are holding my sides with your hands and they feel tight on me. You are laughing and I am laughing and Jilly is crying because she wants a turn.

Then I remember you and mom fighting. I remember you yelling and slamming the screen door. You wanted to be alone, but I tried to go outside and sit next to you. You would let me sit next to you if I didn’t talk. Mom would yell at me to come inside after a while and I did because I was afraid not to. I hated you and mom fighting.

When you moved out and said goodbye it was hard. I knew why you and mom were getting divorced. I knew your drinking had gotten bad and that you didn’t work all the time and that mom didn’t love you any more. But I didn’t care. I didn’t want you to leave because I still loved you.

For a while Jilly and I had two houses. You always said we were lucky because we had two houses to live in and most kids only have one. But then you didn’t have your house and then we stopped visiting and you stopped calling. But I still loved you.

Now my last memory of you is when mom called me at Jilly and Tom’s house and she told me you passed away. She sounded so tired, but she wasn’t crying. I guess I was too stunned to cry, too. I wish I could just cry and cry, but I can’t get it all out. I knew this would happen. In my heart I knew one day the drinking would get you. But I always hoped you would get the better of it. I guess I was wrong.

I will miss you.  Even though I haven’t seen you in a while, I know I will miss you. I will hold you close to my heart. I will remember the daddy that used to fly me on his feet. I will forget the hard times and remember the good times.

It’s Father’s Day and I want you to know that I still love you.

Cancer patient says goodbye to her hair

This letter was given to me by a friend suffering from breast cancer.  It’s amazing how women identify with their hair.  

Hair photo courtesy of Image*After.

Hair photo courtesy of Image*After.

Dear Lovely Tresses:

It’s time to say goodbye. You have always served me well.

I am a plain person with no outstanding skills or qualities except for you.

I am short. You are oh so long.

I am nondescript and dumpy. You are luxurious and glamorous.

People never comment on my clothes, but they always comment on you.

No one remembers what I do or say, but they remember you.

My grandkids love to play with you. I love when they comb you and style you and spend time with me because of you. You have brought me closer to them. You have made them think of me and tell their friends about me.

But now I have to cut you off. I want to cut you off before you fall out on your own. I will miss you. My family will miss you. I wonder what will happen without you. I know I have cancer, but I’m sadder to loose you. What if I scare my grandkids without you? What if people don’t talk to me because I don’t have you with me?

I will save you and have you framed in five little frames so that I can give one to each grandchild to remember you. I know you will be back one day, but it will be many, many years from now.

Now my next goodbye will be to cancer!