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.
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: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.
- First, know that you don’t have to write down EVERYTHING in your letter. That’s probably impossible.
- Second, don’t try to write the entire letter from start to finish without first making some notes.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.”