Stanford University developed a program to help people write final letters to their friends, their family, and even their doctors. The Stanford Friends and Family Letter Project was started in 2015, with guidance from seriously and terminally ill patients.
The most common emotion that these patients expressed was regret: regret that they never mended a broken relationship; regret that they never told their friends and family how much they cared; regret that they were going to be remembered as hyper-critical or an exacting, authoritarian parent. The Project offers templates for friends and family letters, as well as suggestions on what to include.
The friends and family letter can help adults complete the seven life review tasks that the project has identified:
1) acknowledging important people in their lives;
2) remembering treasured moments;
3) apologizing to those they have hurt;
4) forgiving those who have hurt them;
5) saying "thank you";
6) saying "I love you"; and
7) saying "goodbye."
You may think you don't need to write these things because you've already said them. But written words can be held in the hand and cherished, over and over again. If you choose to write such a letter, keep it with your will and trust, or wherever you store important paperwork, so it can easily be found. Or consider delivering the letter yourself. It will serve as an enduring gift to your friends and family.
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