General Question

chyna's avatar

Should I send this letter, and if so, when?

Asked by chyna (51430points) April 16th, 2009

A good friend of mine lost her husband this week. I went to the service yesterday and seeing all of the old friends and relatives that I hadn’t seen in a long time brought back a lot of memories. So when I got home, I wrote down all the memories I had of her and her husband and what they mean to me. Should I send this to her or would it just make her more sad? If so, should I send it now or wait for a few weeks?

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19 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

you know your friend better than we do
but my gut instinct tells me to send it now
it will never be easier to read it if it’s hard for her
but if it isn’t then there will never be a more urgent time

Ivan's avatar

So long as you express to her your reservations that you are expressing now, it should be fine.

figbash's avatar

Those things can be hard to process and people are ready to process them at different times. Too early can set someone back significantly, because their brain still cannot comprehend that the person is gone. I’d send the letter now but give her a little bit of a warning on an outside page, or card clipped to the front of the letter – something along the lines of I’ve written down some of my fondest memories of ______ and everything they’ve meant to me. Tuck it away and read it when you’re ready.”

SeventhSense's avatar

I would send it, but trust your gut.

filmfann's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Lots of lurve headed ur way. I haven’t read a better answer on this site.

elijah's avatar

I personally wouldn’t send it. Your memories of him are for you, she has her own and I’m sure they run through her head all day and night. Let her grieve. Send a letter or card telling her you love her and are there for her. Give her time to get her emotions under control.

hug_of_war's avatar

When my grandma died I wrote my mom a letter about my grandma. I never gave it to her, and I regret that I didn’t. Tell her she can read it when she’s ready.

wundayatta's avatar

I’ve found that most people greatly appreciate the memories of others about the person they lost. No one knows everything about a person, so hearing from people from all walks of life helps them know the person, and see how loved they were. Whenever I’ve written something like this, I’ve gotten grateful letters in return.

The pain is there. It will always be there. The gift of a memory is perhaps the greatest gift you can give, because it gives someone back a piece of the person they lost.

chyna's avatar

Thank you Daloon. You made my mind up.

Jeruba's avatar

I would do this: write out those memories by hand, or type them and print them out, and fold them and put them in an envelope. Be sure you sign and date it. Then write a cover note that says something like what you explained to us—for example,

Dear Elizabeth,

So many warm and wonderful memories of Bill came to me both during and after the service yesterday. I’ve written down some of my thoughts and wanted to share them with you. They’re in the enclosed envelope so you can take your time and read them when you’re ready.

Any time you feel like talking, I’ll be here.

Sincerely,
Chyna

Then I would put this note and the envelope into a larger envelope and send it to her right away.

It might be years before she’s ready (and you might never know), or she might want to read it right away. By sending it now, you’re being respectful and letting her decide without forcing it before her eyes.

I think she will treasure it and be most grateful to you for your thoughtfulness and your delicacy.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Jeruba
You do love the virgin queen. :)

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I had the same problem a year or so ago, when I kid I grew up with died suddenly. I was inspired to write a story about something from our shared childhood, and since he was unmarried, I wanted to send it to his parents. But I didn’t because I was afraid to open new wounds. The story was about a toy we shared as boys, and the person in the story dies too. This is a great question.

Jeruba's avatar

Didn’t even think of that, @SeventhSense! Must have been instinctive.

I wrote such a letter to the mother of a 15-year-old boy who had been my friend when I was in my late twenties and who had died in a car crash. She never even acknowledged it, and I was afraid I’d done the wrong thing, especially since my letter, though loving, was not sentimental at all. Years later she told me that she had read it every day and cried every day for a year and that it had shown her a side of him she’d hardly known. She said she couldn’t thank me enough.

@evelyns_pet_zebra, you could still send it. It might mean a great deal to them to know their boy isn’t forgotten. Not sending it isn’t really going to spare them any pain.

Darwin's avatar

Definitely I would send it, but I would also add a cover note as figbash and Jeruba suggest.

I have done the same thing when several different people I knew and liked died. In most cases the letter became a cherished keepsake. In only one case was it rejected, but the family member for some reason was jealous of my relationship with her parents and behaved in a fashion that embarrassed the rest of the family (and her parents would have paddled her behind if they had lived to see it).

By all means, send it.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Send it. We had a loss of our own not long ago. Hearing those things is precious. Yes it’ll make her sad but grief takes a long time. It is okay to be sad during this time of mourning. You can send it anytime, she can choose herself whether she is ready to read it or not. I think it is absolutely wonderful of you to write that letter btw.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra Even years later parents want to know their child is still remembered. If the story is sentimental and warm then send it. (the fact that there is a death in the story makes me wonder how it comes about, that is the only reason I said if). If I were in your shoes I’d send it. They can choose if they want to read it or not. Even if they don’t read it their hearts will be warm knowing someone remembers their son.

Jack79's avatar

Send it now and let her read it whenever she feels ready. She’ll probably just get sad now, but maybe keep it in a safe place and cherish it later on, even years from now. And hitting rock bottom is part of the healing process.

janbb's avatar

Any time I’ve written a personal letter to a bereaved person with memories of their loved one they have really appreciated it. I think it means a lot to read what others have felt about your lost one. I was very pleased to hear people’s positive memories of my Dad when he died. I can see no downside in sending it now.

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