As 2010 comes to a close, I decided to republish a blog about closure, letter writing and most of all gratitude for those we love in our lives. Enjoy this day, and every day. Remember to remember: this moment is the only one you really have, may you use it to be love, see love, and live love. Peace on Earth and in you always, Andrea
A cornerstone Positive Psychology exercise is the Gratitude Letter and Visit. I have admitted on more than one occasion that I did this exercise and hated it – yet I have never regretted doing it. The suggested process is you write a letter to someone who has helped you during your life, expressing what they did and how it helped you. You then arrange to visit with the person and read the letter to them. That was the part I hated. Yes, hated. Yet since the person I wrote to has since passed away, I appreciate that I have a complete feeling of closure with our relationship while we lived on this earth together. I had not expected that result, but with hindsight I know that the gratitude exercise contributed to that sense of closure. This result was duplicated with a former client and friend’s experience.
During work with a senior executive in his late 50’s I assigned the Gratitude Letter Exercise. Having a father in his last 80’s, this senior executive chose to write a letter to his Mom and Dad. Typical of a client interaction, he chose to write the letter but instead of following the protocol of reading it to the recipient(s), he wrote the letter and placed it in a book in his parent’s vast home library. He knew his parent’s had a habit of returning to certain books several times during the year. His Dad discovered the letter a short time later.
In the solitude of his beloved library, in a chair that fit him like a well worn shoe, he read a letter of love and appreciation from his son. He read examples of how, as a father, he had guided his son’s life every step of the way. He read how he taught his son to love his country because of his distinguished military experience, how his son learned to love his wife watching his Dad love his mother, and how his son learned to never give up on his children – because his parents never gave up on him.
You can only imagine the flood of pride and emotion his Dad felt upon reading his son’s words. My friends Dad told him that a letter had never meant so much, they shared tears of love and joy and spoke about how grateful and fortunate they all were to have had each other in their lives.
Life being life that is not the end of the story. Within two weeks of their tear filled conversation, his Dad received a terminal diagnosis. Within six months his Dad had passed away.
The only challenge I leave you today is a question, “Is there a letter you need to write?”