Processing Grief Through Writing Letters

Posted by: Center for Growth Therapists

Processing Grief & Loss Through Writing Letter: Losing a person and grief is often the toughest thing we can go through in our life. Things get left unsaid, emotions not shared, and no closure gained. We often think of grief when referring to losing someone to death, but we can lose a person to distance, break-ups, and just falling out of touch. When we feel grief over losing a person often there’s many things we wish to say and express, but may not have the opportunity to talk to that person. Writing a letter can help your grief by release some of your feeling and expression emotions that may be lingering in your mind that prevent you from letting this person go.

 

Writing the letter Letter:

The first step in writing a letter is to not rush it. If it has only been a week or so after you lost someone, Know that you may need to write several letter as with time your needs will change. The grieving process is not something that can be rushed through; when it is often people are left with lingering feelings and thoughts.  Greif is best thought of as coming in waves. This letter writing process should be done at a pace that feels right to you. For some people it will be fast and furious, and for other slow and come in fits and small starts.  if you pick up the piece of paper and pen and start feeling uncomfortable then you may not be ready to write the letter. If you find yourself getting frustrated with the process, it’s okay. Grieving takes different amounts of time for people so the amount of time you take to grieve may be different than others around you.
 

The next step is the actual letter. You may write as much or as little as you want.  As noted before if you start feeling uncomfortable after writing a line or two then it’s okay to stop. The process takes time, so pick it up then on a day when you may feel more comfortable. Write everything you wish you could express to that person, all the things you’ve been holding on to. Keep writing till you’ve gotten everything off your mind.

 

Here are a couple lines that may help you start:

My best memory of you is….

 

Now that you are gone I feel…

 

What I’m happy to say goodbye to is…

 

I really wish that…

 

What I miss the most is…

 

I wish I could have told you…

 

You meant (x,y,z) to me

 

I’m so angry that you…

 

I never wanted…

 

After (insert what happened) I felt….

 

Sometimes I think about…

 

How could you…

 

What I learned from you is…

 

When I think about….I feel….

 

I hope that…

 

For some people this process may take a couple weeks, for others it may take a couple months. It may span 3 pages; it may be 20.  Many people need to write the letter and then come back in several days and edit their thoughts.  Keep in mind that this letter is specifically for you. This is not a letter, to send, rather a letter for you to eventually read which moves us to step three.
 

The third step is to read the letter out loud. Light a candle and make yourself comfortable. Imagine that the person you a writing the letter to is standing right in front of you and that you are reading the letter directly to them. Read it with all the energy and emotion that you can. Continue to hold their image in your mind as you express everything in the letter. You may find that you want to add things on even if the letter is finished, feel free to do so. Once you’ve expressed everything you want or find yourself tired out, wish the person a final goodbye and burn the letter. As it burns imagine all the emotions you have been feeling are being released and that your words are carried to that person.
 

This process is not a cure all and you may find yourself still thinking about that person or reflecting on things, this is okay! The goal of this exercise is not so much to cure everything or make all the grief go away, but it’s a nice step in the direction of being able to let go. Too often do we want to hold onto memories of people in the hopes that they may come back or if we release them that they will be gone forever. The letter shows you that despite the person not being in front of you they will always be in your heart. If you still feel bad or unable to let go, then we encourage you to set up an appointment with The Center for Growth/Sex Therapy in Philadelphia where we can help you understand your grief, process it, and learn to let go.