We often hear from our community:
“I wish my mom wrote a letter to me before she died.”
“I keep the letter my father wrote with me wherever I go.”
As humans, we’re often drawn to beginnings and endings. Beginnings inspire excitement and hope, while endings often bring the comfort of closure as we approach the ending of a life chapter and prepare for what’s coming next.
When it comes to the topic of death, though, many of us avoid talking about life’s most important ending. The finality of it — which can bring up difficult emotions — keeps many of us from approaching conversations about it with our families.
No one wants to think about having to say goodbye to a loved one, but there are opportunities to find peace with end-of-life and to help the ones you love find peace with it, too. One of those ways is to consider writing end-of-life letters to your family. Letters are an incredibly beautiful way to say goodbye — and after you’re gone, a keepsake that your loved ones can find solace in. Think of the people you’ve lost and the comfort it would bring to hear from them one last time.
Leaving a lasting message only takes a few minutes, but the impact is everlasting. Your end-of-life letters can be long, or short — all that matters is that they’re written. Learn how to write letters to your loved ones when you begin end-of-life planning.
Pre-planning For Your Loved Ones
Many of us assume end-of-life planning is something we can deal with at a later date; that there’s no urgency in settling affairs now. If you feel this way, you aren’t alone. In a recent survey that we conducted, 52% of Americans 45 or older have done no end-of-life planning.
But keeping an open mind about legacy planning has many benefits. Instead of leaving your family to guess what you would have wanted, you can take care of the important details with the guidance of the Better Place Forests team. Taking care of end-of-life planning takes care of those you love.
Going through the process of pre-planning can also reveal our deepest values — including how we want our friends and family to remember us. You might start thinking about what you can leave to honor your memories together when you’re gone. This is why writing letters to loved ones before dying can be such a meaningful gift: they’ll know exactly how much you cared for them.
How to Write a Goodbye Letter to Your Family and Loved Ones
Penning an end-of-life letter isn’t an easy task and saying goodbye to those closest to us can be scary. Putting thoughts to paper can be even more difficult — but your end-of-life letters may be the most important letters you ever write.
Most of us think of our last words to loved ones as conversations that happen while we’re closest to death. It may be our final opportunity to express our love, share memories, or even address regret. Meaningful end-of-life letters can be written at any time, but writing them earlier — while you may have more time to do so — means you can think through what’s most important for you to share with your family.
The act of letter writing can be a beautiful experience. It encourages you to revisit cherished memories, appreciate how your relationships have shaped your life, and acknowledge how much that love has meant to you. Giving yourself space to process these emotions can often bring clarity (and courage) to find the right words.
Writing letters to your loved ones before dying means they don’t have to guess what you wanted your final words to be; your mind can be at ease knowing you haven’t left anything important unsaid. This provides a sense of closure, and peace, to both you and your family.
There’s no perfect end-of-life letter. It simply holds meaning because it comes from you. Your letter can be a space to express gratitude, or simply say ‘I love you’ or ‘Thank you.’ It can be an opportunity to apologize or forgive. You can leave words of wisdom for children, tender words for a partner, or inspiration for a dear friend. Long or short, they’re special because they become a part of your lasting legacy. It can even be a living document that you revisit and add to over time.
Include Your Letter in Your Memorial Ceremony
With Better Place Forests, we give you the option to have your letters read during your memorial ceremony. Imagine your family, gathering in your honor around your chosen tree within a tranquil forest, hearing your final loving words to them. They’ll not only have a beautiful outdoor space to experience your presence in the forest, but a personal goodbye letter that can provide a lasting connection to you.
As the author of your own narrative, you can write a better ending to your story — one that brings comfort to both you and your family. Leaving a legacy — exactly as you envision it — means you can create a special place where your family can visit and remember you.
If you’re ready to learn more about creating a more meaningful legacy, book a free online forest tour to see firsthand what makes our memorial forests special.