Posthumous letters, sometimes referred to as "legacy letters", offer an opportunity for individuals to communicate messages to loved ones after they have passed away. These letters can provide comfort, guidance, and a lasting connection to those left behind. Creating such a heartfelt letter may require deep introspection, emotional awareness, and clarity of purpose. Here's a guide to writing a posthumous letter that will resonate and provide solace to its readers.
Before you begin writing, take a moment to understand the essence of a posthumous letter. At its core, it can be a way to:
A posthumous letter can be directed to:
Writing a personal and profound letter can be emotionally challenging. Choose a setting that makes you feel at peace. This might be a quiet room, a serene outdoor spot, or any place you associate with calmness and reflection. Alternatively, find an atmosphere that suits the tone you prefer for the letter.
Begin your letter by setting the context. This also helps you set off your writing session.
It may be difficult or even intimidating to write the perfect letter. Don't stress yourself and simply get thoughts down on paper. Corrections to language and spelling can come at a later time. And also don't aim for perfection. As you evolve, so might your sentiments and beliefs. Periodically revisiting the letter ensures that it remains a genuine reflection of who you are.
This isn't the time to wear masks or hold back. Speak from the heart. Share your joys, regrets, dreams, and even fears. Your raw, genuine emotions will make the letter all the more poignant.
Let your emotions flow freely. Whether it's love, regret, hope, or joy, allow yourself to be vulnerable and share your true feelings. Imagine that you are a recipient and how it must feel to receive a heartfelt letter.
While it might be tempting to use familiar phrases or sayings, it's essential to communicate your genuine thoughts and feelings. Avoid cliches that don't genuinely represent your sentiments. Here are some tips for sounding genuine:
Think about how you want your recipient(s) to feel and react. Make sure that they sit back with a smile on their face and not a heavy heart. Inspire them to celebrate your life, the good times, and the lessons, rather than dwell in the sorrow of loss. A perspective that celebrates life can help in the healing process. Let them know if it is okay to share or to talk about the letter with someone else (perhaps specify who), if it is needed.
If your letter becomes very emotional, or you know that the recipient will react immensely, why not include an additional letter with a short lighthearted story or your favorite jokes that they can read afterwards to ease their emotions.
Taking inspiration from Janelle Breese Biagioni, author of A Lifetime of Words, sharing stories helps keep memories alive. Talk about significant life events, the lessons you've learned, and the values you cherish. Use anecdotes to illustrate points and make the message relatable.
Furthermore, talk about the special moments you shared with the recipient, the support they gave you, and the love you felt. Expressing gratitude can be therapeutic for you and comforting for the readers, while it confirms that they were important and your relationship was full.
If there are unresolved matters or feelings of guilt and regret, address them. A posthumous letter is a chance to offer or ask for forgiveness, bringing potential healing to both parties.
Offer words of encouragement and guidance for the reader's future. It could be as specific as advice on a particular matter or as general as wishing them love and happiness.
The conclusion of a posthumous letter offers a moment of reflection, closure, and forward-looking sentiments. It's the lasting impression, the resonance that lingers with the reader long after they've finished the letter. Expanding on final thoughts entails not just rounding off the message but offering a sense of peace, hope, and enduring connection.
Your letter is a precious gift. Store it in a safe place, like a sealed envelope in a drawer or a safety deposit box. Alternatively, give it to a trusted individual, such as a lawyer or close friend, with instructions on when and how it should be delivered.
Naturally, being a posthumous platform, we also recommend registering here on OpenWhenGone and creating your letters digitally. This way you don't have to worry about your recipients opening letters before the appropriate time arrives, and you will always have them at hand for new input and enhancement. Furthermore, you have the option to schedule letters for a continuous connection, keeping your legacy alive.
A posthumous letter is more than just a bunch of words - it can be considered a bridge across time. Such letters have been cherished for generations, like e.g. the famous letter written by Sullivan Ballou during the American Civil War, expressing his profound love for his wife that, despite being immense in language, uses many of the mentioned subjects (look it up). By leaving behind your words and emotions, you offer a lasting legacy that might bring comfort, guidance, and warmth to the ones you love. It's important to note that such letters might not be used as official legal documents.
By keeping these guidelines in mind, you can craft a posthumous letter that stands as a testament to your life, love, stories and the wisdom you wish to pass on.