Handwritten letters from loved ones have great power in helping us to process loss. They also offer us comfort and strength for what lies ahead. We often gain comfort from people we trust and direct family members are often our most trusted confidants, having access to written words from them therefor really helps with the healing process after their passing.
For this reason, I really encourage clients to write something – a letter or two, ideally – that will be given to their loved ones when they pass on.
Write it, don’t type it. Handwritten Letters leave a lasting impact
I really encourage my clients to pick up pen and paper and write something to their loved ones rather than type it into a word processor and then print it out.
Most of us have pretty weak handwriting muscles after so many years of typing! Physically writing something of any length, therefore, doesn’t come as naturally to us anymore, I know. But it’s for this reason that handwritten words are perhaps even more important than they were before. The words we write are likely to be among relatively few physically crafted documents that our loved ones can treasure when we’re gone.
Handwritten letters are a true treasure to those you leave behind when you pass on.
I’m sure you’ll agree that there’s a tactile element to handwritten notes and letters that’s very comforting. The recipient knows that you touched and held this very item. And they see that unique handwriting that they know as yours alone.
Your personality is also likely to shine through the letters in terms of the pen and paper you chose to use. Plain white paper and a black ballpoint pen? Recycled paper and a fountain pen? Pretty writing paper and an ink pen? Whatever it is that you use speaks to your habits and preferences. And it’s these very small details that we remember fondly because they remind us of how well we knew our unique and beloved person.
For this reason, I really encourage clients to make the time to pen some thoughts that they leave to their loved ones.
A further thought: why not include these handwritten notes and letters in a family remembrance book?
What is Our Family Remembrance Book?
Our Family Remembrance Book is a collection of thoughts and mementoes that you create with and for your beloved clan members. You can think of it as something of a personal family history.
When I discuss populating Our Family Remembrance Book with clients, I encourage them to fill this book with things like:
- Handwritten letters and notes
- Some carefully chosen photographs
- Your best advice
- Your favourite quotes
- Hand-drawn pictures or doodles (if you’re gifted that way)
- Wishes or prayers for your loved ones
- Practical advice for your children for when they’re grown-ups
But of course, your family remembrance book can be whatever you want it to be. I just really encourage you to include some handwritten content in it, as handwritten letters offer a little bit more of the person than typed ones.
Our Family Remembrance Book comes as a beautiful hardcover that you can purchase from our online store – find it here.
Create your memories book together
While Our Family Remembrance Book is certainly something you intend to bequeath to your family in your will – a final gift, if you will – it’s also something for the here and now.
If you have slightly older children, I encourage you to see the creation of the book as a team affair. Sit around the dining-room table and discuss what you’re each going to create and put into it or take it with you on a holiday so that you can have leisurely time to put it together. Talk about what each of you wants it to contain, and how each person is going to add to it in their own special way.
Then, write those letters, draw those pictures, choose those photos, and do it together. Create memories around putting together your memories book! Then, one day when you’re gone, this book will be a comforting reminder of not only the thoughts shared in its pages, but also of the times spent together both creating and looking through it.
If you’re new parents, I encourage you to start on your family remembrance book now. In this way, if either of you passes on early, the book can be shared with your children when they’re older. They’ll doubtless find a great deal of hope, healing and closure from looking through such a special and thoughtful book.
The power of handwritten letters when memory fails
Handwritten words from family members who develop any form of dementia (or who lose their full mental or communication capacities for some other reason) can also be incredibly healing for families. None of us knows what the future holds, and for this reason, I believe, that now is the perfect time to start planning and creating your family remembrance book.
Families with thoughtful succession plans cope better
A final thought and encouragement.
In my work as a fiduciary professional where I administer estates and act as executor. I have personally seen time and time again that the families that cope better with grief are those who see and feel that their lost one has thoughtfully prepared for this very difficult time in their lives.
Preparing for your own passing should include not only the creation of a Will but also further thoughtful measures such as leaving farewell letters or a family remembrance book. Where there has been no thought or planning for this time – the pain and grief are that much harder to bear.
If Our Family Remembrance Book feels like too much at this point in your life, I encourage you to start small. Just start with a single handwritten letter. That act in itself shows thoughtful care for your loved ones, and could eventually provide far more comfort than you can possibly imagine. Then, perhaps in time, you’ll feel you have the time and capacity to start on a family remembrance book, and you’ll already have a letter to paste into it.
There’s no better time than the present!