I recently read an article in the New York Times that I thought was important. I work in estate planning and so I meet with people all the time to discuss their end of life wishes in regards to both the care and control of their body should they become incapacitated and who they want to inherit their estate when they die. Inevitably, as we discuss these important issues, we end up talking about and exploring their own views on both death and family. I feel very blessed to participate in these conversations as I learn so much about life and the myriad of ways that it unfolds. What is always apparent and such a constant teaching for me is that each of us is unique and all of us are full of love. Sometimes the decisions are clear and easy and sometimes my client's really struggle with filling in the "estate planning blanks" such as who they would like to serve as their personal representative, who they would like to serve as their agent for their medical power of attorney, etc. Once my services are complete, I advise my clients about how to let their loved ones know where their documents are and to make sure their agents understand their wishes by having conversations with them about the documents that I have prepared. The one thing that I am missing in these conversations because it is not a "legal issue" is that other conversation: what is left unsaid that you would like to to say to your loved ones. In this article from the New York Times, I learned that there is a letter writing project that encourages people to write to their loved ones. The template allows people to complete seven life review tasks: acknowledging important people in our lives; remembering treasured moments; apologizing to those we may have hurt; forgiving those who have hurt us; and saying “thank you,” “I love you” and “goodbye.”
What a great gift both for the letter writer and the recipients - I intend to tell my clients about this from now on - this is an idea worth sharing!