"D’Arline, I adore you, sweetheart. I know how much you like to hear that" - Richard Feynman
Your loved one is no longer physically here.
You cannot give them a hug or pick up a phone and call them to share a joke, or an accomplishment, get their advice on something on your mind or just tell them about your day in the ways you used to do when they were alive.
But you can keep the lines of communication open. You can always write them a letter like the famous heart-wrenching letter that Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman (1818 – 1988) wrote to his wife Arline Greenbaum ~ 18 months after her death in 1941 of lymphatic tuberculosis.
October 17, 1946
I adore you, sweetheart.
I know how much you like to hear that — but I don’t only write it because you like it — I write it because it makes me warm all over inside to write it to you.
It is such a terribly long time since I last wrote to you — almost two years but I know you’ll excuse me because you understand how I am, stubborn and realistic; and I thought there was no sense to writing.
But now I know my darling wife that it is right to do what I have delayed in doing and that I have done so much in the past. I want to tell you I love you. I want to love you. I always will love you.
Words have power: the written word - even more so. So the next time you feel sad, or miss your loved one, use this letter-writing ritual to connect with them.
P.S I Love You Ritual
P.S. I love you is a personal mourning ritual that allows you to open up lines of communication to your deceased loved one in the present moment. You can keep them informed about the events in your life whether big like a wedding, a birth, a new job, a divorce, or the smaller things like the new fun haircut you just got.
In this ritual, you will be setting aside time to write a letter to your person expressing any emotions or thoughts that you would have told them if they were still alive.
The healing power of letter writing
There is a lot of healing that can come out of this experience because it helps you evolve and continue your relationship with them keep the bond alive as well as sort through the emotions and feelings of grief.
The simple act of writing your emotions, feelings, and thoughts out on paper allows you to express yourself freely and work through conflicting emotions you might have about your person, and share things you would have liked them to acknowledge.
Writing also creates room for memories and other thoughts to find their way to the forefront of awareness and help you sort through your beliefs and thoughts about life and death and helps you find creative ways to preserve memories and incorporate your person into your life in the present.
Try not to pretend that they are still alive but talk to them as though you believed they were listening to you or could still hear you.
“I find it hard to understand in my mind what it means to love you after you are dead — but I still want to comfort and take care of you — and I want you to love me and care for me. I want to have problems to discuss with you — I want to do little projects with you. I never thought until just now that we can do that. What should we do. We started to learn to make clothes together — or learn Chinese — or getting a movie projector. Can’t I do something now? No. I am alone without you and you were the “idea-woman” and general instigator of all our wild adventures.” – Richard Feynman
- Medium: Decide how you would like to write to them. There are multiple mediums you can use like a special journal which you only use to write letters to them or even fancy paper. On the other hand, you can write them emails, create a Facebook page or Memorial website and write a post to
- Atmosphere: You can create a special playlist for example of all their favorite songs which you can listen to in the background.
- Writing: It might be helpful to include a date and start the letter by addressing your loved one the way you would in their life. For example, I would write “dear mommy.”
- Storage: Buy a box or use the HeART connections ritual to create a box that will hold all your letters. At the end of this ritual, you can either bury the letter or place them in your box
- Frequency: Determine how often you will write the letters – it could be daily before bed or weekly or whenever the mood strikes
Here are some other letters that people have written that you can use as inspiration. You can also purchase the Angel Catcher or Forever in My Heart Journal to get inspiration for things to journal about to reconnect with your person.
Total Time: 15 – 30 minutes
Ritual Intention: I intend to communicate what is alive inside me at this moment with <insert name>
- Space: Find a quiet space where you will not be disturbed to enact this ritual. You can make the space feel sacred by lighting a candle, burning incense, and including a picture of your loved one. If you have a remembrance altar, you can write your letters in this space. If it helps, use a memento like a piece of jewelry to help you feel close to them during the process.
- Intention: Take some to tune into yourself and reflect on what you will like to communicate to your person. From this place, set your intention for the ritual.
- Invocation: Invoke transpersonal energies to support you. At this time, you can also call upon those who came before you in your family field (ancestors) or your loved one to be present with you
- Ritual Flow - Letter Writing: Use a journal and pen dedicated to this practice and begin writing your letter to your loved one. Note that there is no right or wrong way to express what is in your heart. Engage from a place of openness and curiosity. It can feel daunting to start with a blank paper so I have included some ideas, topics, and themes you can explore, but really it is your time to connect with them in any way that feels healing and invites connection
In all honesty, you should ramble on and talk about whatever crosses your mind. The letter doesn’t have to have a singular purpose or flow to it. It is simply a way for you to get across what you are currently feeling, out from inside you, and into the universe.
- Tell them how you feel – are you happy, sad, or anxious?
- Write any words left unsaid: I love you, I am sorry, thank you, please forgive me…
- Bring them up to speed with what is going on in your life. What is bothering you? What are you happy, excited, or worried about? Did you get married, graduate, break up, lose weight, or write a book?
- Write a love letter to them. Tell them about what you appreciate and miss about them, tell them something which you had told them when they were alive
- Tell them what you miss about them. Do you miss their hug, the sound of their laughter, the smell of their hair, their killer lasagna, or their presence every morning?
- Recall a memory you shared
- Tell them something you regret. This could be in relation to them or something else in your life. Depending on where you are in your grieving process, you might still be sorting out unresolved emotions.
- Let them know what your hopes and dreams are. Where you plan to be in a few years, what you have learned and are learning
- If you have partners or kids they did not meet, introduce them in the letters and tell them things about them
- Express and Release: Write until you feel complete using some of the ideas above. Write as though you knew they were going to receive your letter.
“When you were sick you worried because you could not give me something that you wanted to and thought I needed. You needn't have worried. Just as I told you then there was no real need because I loved you in so many ways so much. And now it is clearly even more true—you can give me nothing now yet I love you so that you stand in my way of laving anyone else—but I want to stand there. You, dead, are so much better that anyone else alive.”
- Close Ritual: When you feel complete, you can close the ritual by putting out the candle, stopping the music.
Give gratitude to your loved one for their life and to any transpersonal energies that showed up to support you.
When you feel complete, close the ritual space, fold your letter, address it to them and place it in your special box
- Reflect and Root: Take a few minutes reflecting on the experience using these questions
- Was I open and honest about my current feelings and thoughts?
- Was I able to express my love and appreciation for them?
- Was I able to resolve any unresolved issues?
- Do I have any regrets or resentments still bothering me?
- Have I left anything unsaid?
- Do I have a better understanding of where I am at right now?
Allow your heart to speak freely
Please remember that the grieving process is not linear, and you can continue this ritual for as long as you need to (for the rest of your life is also a valid option). Don’t feel as though you have to express everything in one letter.
“I know you will assure me that I am foolish and that you want me to have full happiness and don't want to be in my way. I'll bet that you are surprised that I don't even have a girlfriend (except you, sweetheart) after two years. But you can't help it darling, nor can I—I don't understand it, for I have met many girls and very nice ones and I don't want to remain alone—but in two or three meetings they all seem ashes. You only are left to me. You are real.
My darling wife, I do adore you. I love my wife. My wife is dead.
P.S. Please excuse my not mailing this—but I don't know your new address."