The Good-bye Letter, Part 2

Jillian Brasch | December 9th, 2011

images3Last week we looked at the importance of a good-bye letter from a dying parent, and how to write the basic letter. In my experience, by answering the questions in last week’s blog, you’ve written a perfect letter and you can stop there. These letters don’t need to be long, but some people like to write more, so I’m going to give some steps of how to do that.

Some other questions you might want to consider for writing a letter to your child:

  • How do you feel about each child individually?
  • What influence do you want to have on their futures?
  • Is there something you can say to help them cope after you’ve died?
  • How do you want them to remember you?
  • What do you most want to tell your child?

I’ll cover the first two questions today.

How do you feel about each child individually?

If you have several children, try not to write the same letter to all of them. A good way to differentiate is to ask yourself how you feel about each child individually. What is special about this individual? What is special about your relationship? An easy way to start is with their birth order and then mention a special talent.

Barbara, my third-born child, you have always amazed me with your creative way of thinking. Where did that come from? Certainly not ¬†from me, nor from your father. You are your own person. My hope for you is that you continue to let your creativity flow in whatever form that takes in your life. It makes you passionate about anything you pursue, whether you’re solving a complex problem or drawing a picture. I love being your mother.

Now if you write a sentence like “I love being your mother,” you probably need to put that in all of your children’s letters. Most siblings are going to want to see the other letters.

What influence do you want to have on their futures?

I encourage you to make this as general as possible. If you have specific goals for them and they don’t meet them, they may feel guilt when they read the letter. Below are a few lines from Paloma to her daughter in The Last Gifts: Creative Ways to Be with the Dying.

Here is all the advice I get to give you. Be your own person. This is how you do it. Don’t be hypnotized by society. Always do what feels right to you even if it’s not the norm. Listen to yourself for guidance. Second, always ask for what you need and want. You may not always get it, but you sure won’t get it if you don’t ask. Be fearless about this. I didn’t learn this lesson until I had cancer. And third, put some effort into being healthy. Try to eat some healthy food, have friends that you love, and balance work, play, and rest.

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