'Tis the season of endings and beginnings.
With the closing of every “chapter” of life and the commencement of each new one come a myriad of emotions.
Excitement, grief, joy, fear, anticipation, regret, wonder, happiness, gratitude.
A cacophony of emotions.
Endings and beginnings.
They are part of the rhythm of life.
And they are just plain hard.
Today, I’ve been struck in stereo with the profound importance of writing letters of encouragement and affirmation at the ending of life’s chapters.
This morning, I attended the funeral of a radiantly beautiful wife and mother, a woman who had valiantly battled cancer for the last decade. I had been privileged to meet her recently and to help her write letters to her husband, their three adult children and two grandchildren. I had also encouraged her husband to write a letter to his beloved and tell her what she meant to him before she was promoted to Heaven.
The letters between this devoted husband and wife were shared as part of her Memorial Service.
Their love was deep and profound. And because they chose to express their feelings for one another in writing, others were blessed, challenged, inspired and comforted. What a legacy for their children and grandchildren. What a balm for this grieving husband.
And later today, the only child of some special friends will graduate from high school. She was adopted as an infant, and now, a chapter in her life…and in theirs…comes to a close. Soon, she will be heading off to college, and their lives will change forever.
Like all parents, facing the reality that their child is graduating from high school causes emotional turbulence. Most of us concurrently experience great joy and profound grief. Thrilled that your child is thriving and maturing, it’s typical to also keep wondering “how did this happen so fast? Wasn’t it just the first day of Kindergarten?”
These parents have chosen to write letters to their precious daughter to more fully express what she means to each of them. The father was thanking me for developing the Leave Nothing Unsaid workbook because it was such a great help in writing the letter to his daughter.
What is the common thread in these two situations?
Ultimately, it is love.
Letters provided a vehicle to express love in a beautiful, lasting manner.
And at times when conflicting emotions are swirling, writing a letter also helps the individual focus on "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, excellent or praiseworthy..." (Philippians 4:8)
Both the letter writer and the letter recipient will be blessed.
Whether it’s a letter written by a dying wife, a letter from a proud father to his high school graduate, a letter from a child to an elderly parent, or a letter from a bride to her groom, written words matter forever.
Think about the people that you deeply love.
Have you ever told them, in writing, what they mean to you?
Have you affirmed their character qualities that you cherish?
If not, please, please, please, make it a priority.
Ask a new high school graduate. Ask a grieving husband. Ask anyone who has a loving, affirming letter from someone who matters to them.
Written words really do matter forever.
And words written from your heart will be a lasting expression of your love to those who matter most.