Writing a Letter to Your Dearly Departed Can Help with the Grief Process

7 December 2019 • Grief Support & Loss

Today is National Letter Writing Day. Although letter writing seems old-fashioned nowadays, the practice has actually gained popularity again, and, believe it or not, it's young people who brought its resurgence. Perhaps it's a reaction to the technological age, a longing for something more thoughtful and less instantaneous. Whatever the case, its popularity is a welcoming sign in an age saturated with chat apps, direct messaging, and video calls. 

One of the best forms of self-care during the grieving process is to write, because it allows you to express thoughts and emotions unfiltered. Writing in a journal or personal blog is a great option. If you want to try something different, letter writing is an excellent option. 

Let's take a look at the benefits of letter writing that could help you during your time of grief. 

1. Therapeutic 

Simply put, the act of writing alone is therapeutic. Picking up a pen, putting pen to paper, and then writing by hand is almost ritualistic.

The act of writing by hand allows your mind and physical movements to harmonize with one another. While one can argue that typing has the same effect, typing on a keyboard feels more mechanical, whereas penmanship is more fluid.

Watching words magically appear on a blank page as your hand glides smoothly across the paper is a satisfying feeling. 

When you write about whatever comes to mind, there is a sense of release. You liberate bottled up emotions and thoughts you might not have been able to express before picking up a pen. This will help you during your grief process simply by making you feel good. 

2. Honest Self-Expression

While some are less inhibited when expressing their emotions, there are also many who are uncomfortable doing so, especially when around other people. Similar to journaling, letter writing will allow you to express yourself without fear of judgment from others. 

Letter writing is not meant to be literary masterpieces. It's purpose is to communicate unfiltered, whether you're writing a letter to yourself as a form of therapy or to a trusted pen pal. Regarding the former, there is no shame in conversing with yourself. It's not silly to write a letter to the person you see in the mirror. It's not only therapeutic, but could lead to much needed honesty with yourself.

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3. Talking to the Departed

Besides writing a letter to yourself as a form of self-expression, or writing to a trusted pen pal who's helping you with your grieving process, you can also write to the loved one you lost.

Of course, you should only do this if you're comfortable with it. If your emotional wounds are still fresh, it would be best for you to step back for a bit before "talking" to your dearly departed. However, if you're ready to correspond with your loved one, you might find that it is a very therapeutic process. All the words and emotions you might not have been able to express to them during their lifetime, for whatever reason, could find a home on your stationary paper.

During the grieving process, one of the most painful moments are the times when you want to converse with your loved one, but you know you can't do so. Therefore, the words unsaid are kept locked away inside you. This suppression of emotional energy and thoughts can prolong your grief.

Try corresponding with your departed loved one as if they're by their mailbox waiting for your letter. You might be able to be honest with them like never before. The most important thing is that you are able to express whatever has been bottled up inside you. 

4. Emotional Cushion

Letter writing can act as a form of journaling during your grieving period. Writing down your feelings and thoughts as you go through the stages of grief (i.e. denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) could give you emotional cushioning as you go through your journey. 

When you're going through the grief process without support from others, or you continue to suppress your emotions, pressure build-up is inevitable. Therapeutic exercises like letter writing will allow you to ease the pressure as you travel through your grief process, rather than allowing it to accumulate. 

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