How To Write Your Own Last Goodbye Letter

It can be very daunting trying to put your thoughts into words and onto paper for your loved one to read.  But at least you are trying!  Any words you write will be very special to those who read them.  There are no clear cut ‘rules’ for writing any letter, except for one:  make sure it’s from your heart.

Here are some suggestions on how to get started:

1. Think of the person you are writing to and remember a specific incident that comes to mind.  Write it down.  For example:  “I remember when I was fifteen and you took me taught me how to…”  or  “It wasn’t a big deal to you, but it was a big deal to me that summer we spent in Wisconsin and we sat out on the pier one night and talked about…”  or “You always shared your secrets with me.”

2. Take a minute to think about how you felt then and how you feel now about this incident.  For example:  “You gave me the confidence to try hard at something for the first time in my life.”  Or, “That was the beginning of my love for the outdoors and it set my life on a course that it wouldn’t have taken without you.”  Or, “You made me feel important and grown up and that what I had to say really mattered to you.”

3. Repeat as necessary.  This can be long or short—whatever feels best to you at the time of writing.

4. Don’t think that a letter has to be written words.  Maybe it’s a drawing, a word collage, a poem  (rhyming or otherwise), a song or something else entirely.

5. Don’t worry if you don’t say everythingYou can’t possibly write down everything you want to express about a relationship in one letter.  But writing your letter says a lot more than what is simply written on the page.  Your letter brings back memories to the reader.  It reminds him/her of your love.  It surprises, it honors, it warms the heart, it brings a tear, it brings a smile to your reader.  Your loved one will be able to read all the unwritten sentiments that you were unable to put onto paper.  Your letter will bring joy to both your and the recipient.

6. Close your letter with a few short words that you feel describe the recipient.  For example, you could say, “you are special to me because you are beautiful inside and out, your laugh makes me smile, you always make me feel safe” etc.

7. Give it to your loved one.  This is an important step for you.  If you can’t give it in person, then mail it, e-mail it, give it to a friend to deliver for you, read it over the telephone or in a voice message.  One caveat here:  The recipient may not act the way you have scripted the response to be.  He/she may want to read it in private and may never want to discuss it with you because it is so emotional.  Let the reader react in the way that fits him/her best.

If you would like to share your letter and/or writing experience with others, please send us your letter along with the Release Agreement that can be downloaded from this website.

All our best wishes in your writing endeavors—may they be healing to yourself and others.

5 thoughts on “How To Write Your Own Last Goodbye Letter

  1. I have Stage 4 Lung Cancer. I have my husband and three grown sons. I would like to write letters to them but I am not sure on how to go about it. I’m not a great writer and so I am not sure if I should write one letter to all three sons or individual letters to include their wives. Two of them are married. I don’t even know how to start the letters to them or my husband, but I know I want yo do this. Can anyone help me with this?
    Thank You Ann

    • Hello, Ann: I thought I replied to you privately, but when I didn’t hear back from you, I thought I should reach out again. I hope you are comfortable and doing as well as can be expected–both emotionally, spiritually and physically. It sounds like the How To Write A Goodbye Letter was not enough instruction for you. I would be pleased to chat with you on the phone if you are strong enough to do that. Please let me know how to contact you by e-mailing me privately at:

  2. Thanks for sharing this list. It really kickstarted things for me as I thought through what I would want to write as a last letter to loved ones. My uncle died suddenly yesterday and I was reminded how little time I have that I know. I incorporated some of what you shared here and linked to it in my blog here: Thanks for sharing!

    • Hello, Daniel. I appreciate the comment. I’m sorry it took me a while to respond–it just fell through the filtering system! I’m sorry to hear about your Uncle. Loosing a loved one is hard, but I’m thinking he would be happy to know that he inspired you to write out your feelings. I appreciate the link to your blog as well. Thank you for sharing that, and if you choose to share your letters, I’d be pleased to post them here!

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