GRIEF NOTES by Dr. Sandra Howlett, Ed.D

In the February 22, 2007 issue of the Journal of American Medical Association, researchers studied how people grieve.  While it is true that many people do feel shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, the study revealed that what most people felt most deeply was a profound sense of longing for their loved ones.  Simply put, the dominate feeling was that of missing them.   

One way to express those feelings is thru letter writing.  And yes, you can write letters to people who have died.  As you know, “Death ends a life, not a relationship.” 

 On the following page is an outline for a letter you can write to share some of your feelings.  Letter writing is private and allows you the freedom to say what you want, without comment or judgment from others.  It can help to tie up loose ends of unexpressed thoughts as well as share current feelings.   

 After writing it, what do you do with it? There are many options.  You may want to put it in a memory box or attach it to a balloon and release it or burn it or bury it or set it to sail in a river.  Another option is to place it in an envelope with your loved one’s name, proper postage and no return address and drop it in a mailbox. 

 You will miss your loved one for a long, long time and feelings also change over time.  Those changing feelings offer opportunities to write other letters.  Some people have created a special journal of letters to their loved on, dating each entry while keeping an ongoing communication of feelings and things they would normally share if their loved one was still here.  While this is not for everyone, it can be helpful and healing to many.

 

Dear  

I miss you so much that I … 

One thing that reminds me of you is … 

Sometimes I get angry because … 

I feel guilty about … 

I wonder if … 

I wish…  

If I could have 10 more minutes with you I would … 

P.S…

Dr. Sandi is the Bereavement Specialist for Hansen Mortuary in Scottsdale and Phoenix Arizona,   She may be reached at [email protected]

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