If you can, tell people how you feel when they’re alive. If you can’t, consider writing them a letter.

So, I use the Day One app for some of my journaling, and there is an accompanying Facebook group. Someone posted in there that they have taken to writing letters to loved ones who have passed away, I think as part of the grieving process.

I love this idea for many reasons.

1. It’s a way of dealing with grief. If someone was important in your life—for better, for ill, or both—you’ll be left with a lot of feelings after and about their death. There are many ways of working through these feelings, but one that can be really helpful for a lot of people is to write about them. Especially in a private way. You can be 100% honest and work through some things. You can address what they meant to you or did to you. You can “say” things to them that you want to communicate. You can also write things to them that you would never have written to them in reality, for whatever reason.

2. It may feel like you’re spending time with that person. When I make a craft for someone, I feel like I am spending time with that person. I am putting my love for that person or feelings about that person into the craft. When I look at photos of dead relatives, or read their letters, or see items that they have left behind, I feel connected to them, like I am actually (sort of) with them. Writing a letter to someone may feel like that for some people.

3. It will help solidify memories of that person. By revisiting your memories of that person, and maybe writing about their life or your lives together, you’re solidifying memories of them, helping them live on in your memory. People’s memories of loved ones lost sometimes soften or decrease over time, so the clearer and more available you can make those memories, the longer you’re likely to be able to access them.

There are probably a ton more reasons why this might be a useful exercise. But these are the ones I thought of off the top of my head.

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