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The Write Stuff: Friends and Family

Most adults are aware of the plain fact of our own mortality. Our discomfort with this idea sometimes stems from feeling that we have left something unfinished. The folks at Stanford Letter Project have developed a series of letters that help us move through whatever emotions we might have. Their "Who Matters Most" letter template addresses our relationships with those we love. Like all advance care planning, these tasks should be completed before you think you need them! They include:

Acknowledge Loved Ones Identify the key people (friends and family) who have played a role in your life. What would you like them to know? Let them know how you feel.

Remember Treasured Moments. Whether it's the birth of your children or annual picnics in the country, recalling the moments that define your life is a powerful way to connect with others.

Apologize to Others. We have all caused pain to those we love. Writing out your apology to those you have wronged can ease your mind and mend those fences.

Forgive Those Who Need Your Forgiveness. If you can forgive those you love who have wronged you in some way, it may help you to find peace.

Express Gratitude. Be as specific as possible in highlighting the people and events in your life for which you are grateful.

Tell Your Friends and Family You Love Them. This can be difficult, but writing down how much we love the people in our lives is a cathartic exercise that carries many benefits.

Say Goodbye. Writing out a final "goodbye" is not an easy task. In fact, you likely will find every item on this list brings a well of emotions, so take your time and only do what seems right for you.

Life review is a process that takes time and thoughtful effort. It helps bring to light the deep and complex feelings we have for one another and for our own lives. Sorting through these emotions is what can help us move towards a sense of completion and satisfaction with the life we have lived, and those we have loved.

Stanford Letter Project has a variety of templates to suit everyone's needs. They also provide sample videos and letters that others have written for us to review. Find them here.

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