Death is the most natural thing, yet it seems surreal, which is why most of us don't bother planning for it (plus it's kind of a bummer). We've told you how to prepare for the practical stuff, but there's the emotional side to think about, too. Consider writing a "last letter". Photo by ktburnett91
Over at the New York Times, Doctor VJ Periyakoil details her experience dealing with dying patients. She writes:
The most common emotion they express is regret: regret that they never took the time to mend broken friendships and relationships; regret that they never told their friends and family how much they care; regret that they are going to be remembered by their children as hypercritical mothers or exacting, authoritarian fathers.
Based on this experience, Periyakoil launched the Stanford Friends and Family Letter Project. It's basically an initiative that encourages patients to open up a dialogue with their doctors and loved ones to communicate "what matters most to them at life's end". This means creating guidelines for their care, but it also means expressing their feelings to family and friends.
Again, it's kind of a dark topic and one that most of us don't exactly embrace. The idea that you may leave this world without closure, though, is an even more unpleasant thought. The Project's site includes two templates you can use:
- What Matters Most Letter: This is a letter template that allows anyone to document what matters most to them and what treatments they want in the future. This tool is free and is available in print, as an online fillable form and as an iPhone and Android App in eight different languages.
- Friends and Family Letter: This letter can help all adults complete their seven life review tasks: Acknowledging important people in our lives; remembering treasured moments in our lives; apologising to those we may have hurt; forgiving those who have hurt us; and saying "thank you," "I love you" and "goodbye". Using this template, you can write a letter to your friends and family in one of eight languages using an online form, an iPhone or Android App or a printable form.
Hit the links above to check out each template. You fill them out online, and then you can print or email (you don't have to sign up for or submit anything). To read more about the initiative, head to the links below.