by Opal Miamoto
Now that you are reading this, you want to know how to write a letter to a loved one who passed away. Whether you lost a loved one several years ago or recently, you have a unique grieving process. No two people are alike. And the grieving process never stops. You may start having positive thoughts and feelings and being hopeful about the future. However, grief never goes away completely.
You’ll experience it when you least expect it – you hear a song on the radio or meet someone who behaves like your loved one at the store. And this is completely normal. Grief is unique to every person and situation. You’ll grieve differently at different periods. Two people will grieve differently for the same person. And you might grieve differently at the loss of your mother than the loss of your child or spouse.
Mourning rituals and the grieving process
Merriam Webster defines a ritual as a ceremonial act or a series of acts that are repeated over time in a precise manner according to social customs, protocols, or religious laws. Since time immemorial, people have been practicing mourning rituals after a loved one or a member of the community passes away. Rituals include ceremonies, funerals, and specific protocols for handling the body. Traditions can be simple such as holding a ceremony or planting a tree. Some will require the whole community to participate while others will require only close family members and friends.
Individuals or groups can carry out rituals. And no rule may apply. Most of the time, death rituals are associated with the things that are done in public or with close family members to celebrate the life of a loved one. But, the things that we do internally to heal are the most important rituals. Writing a letter is one of the most effective rituals during difficult times.
Benefits of writing
Some grieving people try writing letters as a way to express their thoughts and emotions In fact, AfterTalk was founded with this purpose in mind. The founders both had found that writing to a deceased wife in one case and father in the other was helping them cope. AfterTalk is completely free and non-denominational. AfterTalk has a robust and highly secure, very private system for writing to deceased loved ones. Also has features for including—by invitation only—family members and friends who want to share their thoughts. For more information on AfterTalk’s writing system CLICK HERE.
Writing is an amazing tool that has lots of physical and emotional advantages, especially when dealing with the death of a loved one. Writing provides clarity and it’s one of the best outlets for negative and positive emotions. Research studies have also shown that writing is effective when it is integrated with therapy aimed to eliminate various mental conditions such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, addictions, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and relationship issues to name a few.
Some people have reported that they used writing to get through their grief. And everything worked quite well. You don’t have to be a professional or experienced writer. No one has to read what you write (AfterTalk insures this). Using expressive therapy is one of the best ways to work through your loss, grief, and emotions. And it can be therapy for your eyes alone.
While you will feel sadness and pain after losing a loved one, there are long-term mental and physical benefits linked to the writing process. Research studies have shown that writing for only 15 minutes a day for four consecutive days has physical and mental benefits. People who use this method to recover tend to have a stronger immune system than those who don’t. Apart from writing a letter, writing can take different forms. They include journaling, poetry, story writing, and therapeutic journaling.
If writing is not your thing, you are in company. If you don’t feel comfortable expressing yourself using words, you should consider experimenting with other therapeutic methods of expression such as drawing, painting, singing, pottery, carpentry, photography, and knitting to name a few. These creative and expressive techniques will offer similar benefits to writing.
Writing a letter
How do you start writing a letter to a loved one who passed away? It can be challenging to know where to start. Staring at a blank screen or page can be daunting. Fortunately, there is no wrong or right way of doing this. There are no rules to follow especially if no one is going to read it. You need to allow yourself to be expressive. Avoid holding back emotions or editing yourself when writing. Now is the time to go deep and discover how you feel. You need to go deep if you want to heal fully. Some of the best lines to start a letter to a loved one who passed away include:
- This month has been…
- When you passed away…
- Now that you are gone…
- When you were here with me…
- I’ve been feeling…
There are a lot of different ways to start this letter. However, if you find yourself struggling to get started, you can always use the words that we’ve mentioned here. You must choose those that feel natural to you. There are a lot of books full of writing prompts that will give you many ideas on how to start your letter.
Letter to a loved one – What to include
Now, you are probably wondering what needs to include or not include in your letter. You can start by telling the person what you wanted to say or do when they were alive. You can tell your loved one how your life has changed since they passed away. You can tell them anything that comes to your mind. Be it funny, joyful, or sad, feel free to express yourself. Some of the things that you should consider including in your letter are:
- Funny moments
- Life lessons
- Word of advice
- How they helped you solve a complex problem
- Sweet memories
When writing this letter, you should avoid leaving anything out. Imagine that your loved one is with you and you are communicating with them. You need to unmask any pain or hurt that you are enduring. Don’t leave any details even if they are embarrassing or painful. Writing a letter is supposed to be therapeutic to you. You won’t feel better or make progress by ignoring the subject matter.
What if you need to share your letter?
While writing a letter to a loved one is for your peace of mind and healing, you may also want to share the letter with others. Or to create a eulogy, obituary, or other rituals. Keeping the letter private or sharing it with close family members and friends is your choice AfterTalk makes this very easy. . As you adapt the letter, you should consider editing the content to honor your loved one’s memory. You should leave out private or personal affairs.
Comforting your loved ones
Your letter can help in comforting close family members and friends who are grieving a loved one like you. Losing a family member can change everything in a family. Every family member will express their grief in different ways and at different stages and times. Several scientific studies have been conducted on the stages of grief. And they include these emotions:
- Acceptance and growth
Regardless of how the stages of grief have been classified, individuals might go through all the stages, skip some or spend more time in one stage or another as they recover.
Writing a letter to a loved one who passed away is one of the best ways to get through the grieving process. Take your time to relax and seek help from a professional. Remember, being happy is not betraying your loved one. The one thing that they would like is for you to live your life fully.
Opal Miyamoto is a freelancer at dissertation service and a blogger from the United States. She is very friendly and communicative. Opal is always open to new connections. Her hobbies are cooking, painting, traveling, and writing of course
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