Chaplain JTC, III with AllCare Hospice in Tulsa, Oklahoma ministers to those in their last days of life. He allowed me to share this article about writing to heal with you. It talks about guilt, regret, forgiveness, gratitude and acceptance. Here’s a link to the Chaplain’s story:
Photo by Zion and courtesy of MorgueFile.
Starting the writing process isn’t hard–just decide to begin.
Should you choose to write a letter and would like to share it with others in order to help them, please feel free to submit it to: Letters@LastGoodbyeLetters.com.
Praying Hands photo courtesy of Katie Tegtmeyer
I’m having a hard time writing a letter to my dying father. My step father raised me and my step father passed several years ago. I don’t know what to say to my father. My step mother refuses to let me see him for any closure. I am just lost for words.
This inquiry came to me a while ago and I thought my response might help others in a similar situation:
1. Open the letter with why you feel you want to write to your father even though your relationship hasn’t been that close. Tell him why it’s important for you to tell him these things and that you are hoping he sees the letter as an expression of love, not of blame or guilt (assuming that is true).
2. Do you have any memories of your father? Since your step-father raised you, you may not. If you do, then sit quietly and make a list of the memories you have. If you don’t have memories, make a list of things/times/emotions you would like to share with a father.
3. Look over your list and pick a couple of items. Then, write a couple of sentences about how thinking about those memories you have/wish you had make you feel. Closer to him as a father? Did it impact you in some way going forward in life? Something that you have never shared with any one else? Make you feel nurtured?
4. Close your letter with anything that you feel has been left unsaid. You might want to mention that you know he may never read the letter because of your step-mother’s protectiveness. If you want… add a list of adjectives that come to mind when you think of your father.
Finally, I think that it’s most important for YOU to write the letter. Do you have someone that can read the letter to your father for you since your step-mother is keeping you from seeing him? If you have no choice left, I would send it to your step-mother and hope that she will read it to your father. Sometimes you just don’t know the impact of your actions, and you have to trust that you did the best you could in a given situation and trust that the Universe will figure a way for your father to know your feelings.
I’ll say a prayer for you and your father. If you would like to share your letter with me, I would be honored!
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.
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!
I came across this story by Jim Stingl from the Milwaukee County Journal Sentinel and felt it was something to share with you. Very touching.
Click this link to read the entire article.
Until this embrace, these pen pals had not seen each other in 25 years. Photo courtesy of Jim Stingl.
These women didn’t have to write goodbye letters to each other–they’d been writing their whole lives, so I’m sure, nothing was left unsaid.
As Christmas arrives, we remember to give thanks for our friendships.
I guess we all grieve in different ways. This person wrote a letter to Robin Williams whom, I assume, he never met in person. Writing a letter to someone you don’t know personally didn’t cross my mind before today. But this letter, hopefully, helped ease the pain in the author’s heart:
You made me laugh. You brought joy into people’s lives. You were so upbeat. You were a genius. I’m so sad that you left us. There was so much more you could give to the world. I’m so sad to know that that you were sad when all you did was to make others happy.
I’m sending you this letter in my heart. I wish I sent it to you before you felt like you had nothing left. You gave so much. We will miss you.
I encourage you to write a letter to a loved one today! If you’d like me to share it with others, please send it to me at letters@LastGoodbyeLetters.com.
This came my way and, after cleaning up the punctuation and a word or two, I’m posting it for you. I don’t understand all of it because, apparently, I’m not cool. But the gist is plain to see for everyone: Don’t allow yourself to be a target. Love yourself even if you think no one else does. You are a person of value. Let’s say a prayer for all the Angels in the world:
It’s time to lace it up dude. You are cool. You’re beautiful. You’re not fat. You’re not cray cray. I know you. You’re clean, chido. No molly. No weed. No more caguamas.
Next time they come at you, turn around dude. Swerve. All you need to prove is to yourself. You don’t need to fight back. You don’t need to cut to feel anything. You’re the bigger man dude.
I’m down with you. And that’s the only thing that matters. F@*# those other guys. No hay bronca. Orale!
I received this letter today and I wondered if I should post it. It isn’t all flowery and nice, but it is reality. And there is definitely love in it. I thought I should post it so that others who are primary care givers for loved ones with dementia will see that it’s OK to feel scared, mad and alone. Read on:
Dear, dear Mom,
As I sit here looking at you napping in your chair, I realize that you’ve been gone from me for such a long time. I miss you. I miss that we used to have such stimulating conversations with Dad. I miss that you used to smile and laugh at my jokes. I miss you taking care of me. I miss your intellect, your insight and your bright spirit.
Now, I’m taking care of you. And it’s hard. And I’m tired. Sometimes I want to go to sleep and not wake up. You are healthy, except your mind is gone. My friends and sister all tell me to think of myself and place you in a home. Do you know that I’ve called several, been on the list to get you in and when the phone call comes that says there’s room for you, I just can’t do it. They’ve stopped calling me because they know I can’t place you. You’re my mom.
Sometimes I’m so angry with you and Dad for leaving me in this situation. I guess I don’t know what else you could’ve done, but I’m still resentful. And I’m scared. I can’t lift you without help from Hospice workers. There’s so much I can’t do. I just try to hold on to any little bit of normalcy. It’s so wonderful for me to get an hour to go to the grocery store by myself. I feel free. And I feel bad that I feel free.
I’m thankful that you know me a little bit still. That’s a little bit that I can hold on to of the old you.
I love you, Mom. And I’m saying goodbye now even though you can’t read this letter. I just want you to know that you are so special to me. Even like you are today. Even though it’s hard.
I love you.
If you would like to share your goodbye letter with others, please e-mail it to me at: Letters@LastGoodbyeLetters.com
I wrote a letter to my mother a couple of Mother’s Days ago and I wanted to share her reaction after reading it. Fortunately for me, she left me a voice message and I can listen to her happy response over and over–especially when I’m feeling a little blue, it picks me up to know how easy it was to make her smile.
Here’s what she said:
Hi, Susan, this is your mom! I got your letter. I just picked it up from the post office and I just had to call you and tell you thank you! Thank you! Thank you! It absolutely made my heart swell so big. It’s a beautiful, beautiful letter and I’m going to keep it forever and ever and ever! Oh… (laughs) It’s just special. It’s just special! So… I just wanted to let you know. You take care. I love you, love you, love you! You can tell I’m thrilled. And that’s it. I just wanted to tell you thanks, I loved it. You take care. Love you very much, Sweetheart.
The ladies of the family hug Mom!
FYI, I followed my own advice in my post on How To Write Your Own Last Goodbye Letter. I just sat quietly for a time and thought of scenarios in my life where my mother played a key roll. Before long, I wasn’t staring at a blank page any more–it was filled up with words!
I’m not expecting my mom to depart this world any time soon, but why wait to write a letter? Share the love for Mother’s Day! You can tuck it into a greeting card!
In my post dated March 14, I reported how my friend felt bad because he kept putting off doing things with friends because ‘there’s always tomorrow,’ and then, sadly, sometimes missed the opportunity. One such opportunity was to take a dear friend to eat at a favorite restaurant one and-a-half hours from home. And, guess what? We did it!
The drive was beautiful, the company was fun and our friend Helen ate at her favorite Mexican restaurant in the state of Arizona!
Steve and I felt happy that we could spend time with our friend and make her day very memorable. Helen, in turn, was so very thankful that we took time out of our day just for her… to make her feel special.
That was worth it.
Susan, Helen and Steve at a favorite restaurant.
Even if Steve DID spill salsa all over our table! That just made it more memorable!
My gentle suggestion: Don’t let yourself become too busy to spend time with someone important. It’s good for the soul!
I truly wish I had this in a complete MP3 version, but unfortunately, all I have is a script with little audio sound bytes within it. Thought I would share:
RADIO INTERVIEW WITH JEFF SCOTT
A GILBERT WOMAN’S LETTER TO HER DYING FATHER HAS PROMPTED HER TO ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO DO THE SAME. SUSAN GEER IS ASKING PEOPLE TO SHARE WITH HER THEIR “GOODBYE” LETTERS FOR AN UPCOMING BOOK…Sound Byte-107
GEER SAYS IT PROVED THERAPEUTIC FOR HER TO PUT HER FEELINGS ABOUT HER FATHER DOWN ON PAPER, AND THOUGH HE WAS ABLE TO READ IT BEFORE HE PASSED AWAY, GEER SAYS OTHERS HAVE FOUND CLOSURE BY WRITING GOODBYE LETTERS TO DECEASED LOVED ONES AS WELL.
PEOPLE CAN E-MAIL GEER THEIR GOODBYE LETTERS AT SUSAN@LASTGOODBYELETTERS.COM. THEY CAN READ MORE ABOUT HER PROJECT AT HER WEBSITE, WWW.LASTGOODBYELETTERS.COM.
GEER SAYS SHE WROTE HER LETTER TO HER DYING FATHER ON THE EVE OF WHAT SHE ASSUMED WOULD BE THEIR LAST VISIT…Sound Byte-108
GEER HOPES SHARING THE GOODBYE LETTERS OTHERS HAVE WRITTEN IN HER UPCOMING BOOK WILL ENCOURAGE MORE PEOPLE TO PUT THEIR FEELINGS ON PAPER…Sound Byte-109
GEER SAYS A WOMAN WHO HEARD OF HER PROJECT WAS COMPELLED TO WRITE HER OWN GOODBYE LETTER TO A LOVED ONE…Sound Byte-110
GEER IS SURPRISED BY THE RESPONSE…Sound Byte-111
GEER SAYS THE LETTERS DON’T HAVE TO BE ALL-EMCOMPASSING…Sound Byte -112
SHE SAYS THE LETTERS DON’T HAVE TO BE FOR DECEASED OR DYING LOVED ONES, POINTING OUT THAT ONE PERSON SHARED A GOODBYE LETTER TO A SPOUSE IN THE MIDST OF A DIVORCE. OTHERS HAVE WRITTEN THEIR GOODBYES TO THEIR DECEASED PETS.