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Arts & entertainment

The Transformative Power of Letter Writing

10 Mar 2022 | Written by By Lynelle Suan

In episode ten of the series Violet Evergarden (2018), there was a young war widow named Clara. Clara was only in her thirties, but she had a terminal illness… and she only had a few months left to live. 

She wasn’t ready to leave her daughter, Anne, who was just seven years old. 

Clara still had so much to tell her daughter — stories, encouragements, advice, and so on. But she was battling with time. And time wouldn’t allow Clara to be with Anne for a very long time. 

So, Clara spent a week writing 50 letters for Anne — and Anne would receive one of those letters every year on her birthday… for 50 years.

Which was beautiful, wasn’t it? Because aside from bringing comfort to Anne, those letters also became Clara’s lasting legacy for her beloved daughter. 

 

Creating and Immortalising a Legacy

This was quite similar with Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture and Gary Halbert’s The Boron Letters. They wrote to pass on their love and wisdom to their children. 

They created something that outlived them, so their legacy continues to create an impact for generations to come.

In fact, Gary Halbert even encouraged his son, Bond Halbert, to start a “Halbert Tradition” where the Halbert parents make it a point to pass down what they have learned to the next generation — by writing letters to their kids.

That way, they’d be able to build a lasting legacy that would also “immortalise” their presence, and guide their children with their lived experiences.

Now, that’s a simple yet powerful way to influence and transform your children — or any of your loved ones. 

And you can do something similar, too!

Which is why this week, I encourage you to write three kinds of letters to your loved ones. It could be for your son, your daughter, your grandchildren, your spouse, your best friend, or any loved one that you want to write to.

Below are the three types of letters you could consider writing.

 

Letter #1: A Letter to Express Gratitude 

In this journey called ‘Life’, it’s inevitable to have tough days, challenging tasks, and difficult situations. That’s okay. We all have ups and downs — it’s normal. But we owe it to ourselves to focus on the “ups” instead of the “downs.”

And writing a gratitude letter will help you to do just that.

First, think about the things you appreciate about your loved one. Why are you grateful for them? What are the things that they have done for you? Then simply write those down in your letter to show your gratitude for them.

After all, expressing gratitude will bring joy — both to you and your loved one.

It doesn’t have to be a long letter. Just a few paragraphs full of gratitude and appreciation can make anyone smile. And once your loved one reads your gratitude letter for them, I’m sure they’ll appreciate you even more as well.

 

Letter #2: A Letter Full of Encouragement

Have you ever felt like giving up — wishing someone was there to cheer you up?

If you answered yes, then it’s most likely that your loved ones have also felt something similar. They want someone to be by their side — a cheerleader to encourage them.

Well, you can be that cheerleader for them. Or maybe you already are! But when you write down your words of encouragement into a letter, that letter may just be your loved one’s anchor during a hard time. 

Write about how much you believe in them. Remind them of their strengths. Reassure them that they can do it — even if they don’t think they can.

Show them that they can lean on you, and that you support and care for them no matter what happens. Because when you encourage them, you also empower them to become the best that they can be.

 

Letter #3: A Letter to Share Your Wisdom 

Your experiences, perspective, and insights make up your wisdom. So, what do you think is the best way to share your wisdom with your loved ones?

Personally, I think it would be to tell them stories about your most memorable experiences, and to teach them about the values and principles that matter the most to you — which will also help them in living their lives.

And it’s not just about giving them tips and advice.

Sure, that may be a part of it. But it’s more about giving them the gift of getting to know you even more personally — and letting them into the things that you may not have shared with anyone else. 

Not only will they treasure the wisdom that you’ll impart to them, but they’ll also feel moved about how you took the time to write this letter for them.

 

Write What You Couldn’t Say Out Loud

Now, aside from the three letters we discussed above… 

Sometimes, there are also things we want to tell our loved ones — but maybe we couldn’t really say it out loud for various reasons. 

It could be as simple as “I love you,” “I miss you,” “I’m sorry,” or “I forgive you.”

But the good news is, you can write it down. You can pour your heart out into the letters that you write — because you don’t have to hold back.

And remember how Clara wrote 50 letters for her young daughter, Anne?

This was letter number one, opened on the first birthday Anne has without her mother…

Imagine how Anne feels every time she gets the annual birthday letter from her mum — when she turns 10, 18, 20…

She treats those letters as her most valuable treasure.

Because even though her mum is not with her physically anymore, the letters remind Anne of her mum’s love.

A love that lasts forever. 


What’s going to be first on your letter writing list? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

If you fancy developing your writing skills further, do try one of our popular Creative Writing classes with Grace. For a sneak peak at what it’s like to join Grace’s class, read all about member Jane Ricot’s experience in the session.  

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