Where To Begin – How To Start Writing Your Goodbye Letter

Peter contacted me last week wondering how to start a letter to his ex-wife to tell her that he was dying and to express what their relationship had meant to him.  Although there is a link at the top of the Last Goodbye Letters homepage on How To Write Your Own Letter, I thought it would be good to share my response to Peter.   I hope this response helps others write letters.

Photo courtesy of Paleontour and everystockphoto.com
Dear Peter: I’m so sorry to hear about your health.  Facing mortality is something we all must do, but when it comes time to get real about that, I can only imagine the gamut of emotions that must be a turmoil for you. Here’s what you do:
  1.  First, know that you don’t have to write down EVERYTHING in your letter.  That’s probably impossible.  
  1.  Second, don’t try to write the entire letter from start to finish without first making some notes.
  1.  How to make notes:  Write down words and phrases like:  sorry, stupid, freedom, love, scared, make amends, need to laugh, etc.  Write down words / stories you have of the person that are particularly memorable to you.
  1.  Write the letter from your notes.  
  • Start with why you wanted to write the letter in the first place.  For example, “It’s hard for me to put this into writing, but I wanted you to know that I’m dying from _______________.”
  •  How does writing the letter make you feel?  For example, “I’m scared that I might die without you knowing the reasons behind my actions.  Writing this letter is as much for me as it is for you.”
  •  Then start writing down the reasons WHY you wrote the words or phrases from point #3.
  1.  End your letter with why you felt it was important to write.  For example, “We made a lot of memories together—both good and bad—but I thought you deserved to know how I acted the way I did.  I think you do know why I left but I didn’t want you to guess, I wanted to tell you this from my heart.”
I’m sorry for the reason you have to write your letter(s).  I think it will be a healing experience for you.  Don’t worry about how it ends up.  Don’t worry about how your ex-wife (or anyone else) responds to the letter.  The important thing is that you write it.
If you would like to host a letter writing workshop, let us know via the Contact Us! form and we can send you a workshop outline. And, as always, if you would like to share your letter with others to inspire them to write, please send it to us at: Letters@LastGoodbyeLetters.com.
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