Writing a letter that says goodbye to someone you care about isn’t easy, but it can bring healing and closure when a relationship ends. These tips on how to write a goodbye letter are inspired by a reader’s comment and based on my experience with a variety of losses.
This article was inspired by a reader. “Since my ex-boyfriend would not call or communicate, I wrote him a goodbye letter,” said Michelle on What is Relationship Closure? How to Heal Without a Goodbye. “I told him I needed closure for ME! I needed to let him know my feelings about the breakup. But before writing and sending this goodbye letter I actually wrote him a very angry, blunt letter. Then I burned it along with some sage to get rid of the negative energy. ”
That’s your first tip on how to write a goodbye letter after a hurtful breakup or angry divorce: don’t send your first draft! Instead, write everything you think and feel, and then sit on it for a few days. It may or may not be the goodbye letter you end up sending, but you won’t regret an impulsive action.
Michelle also said, “When I find the right relationship, I will cherish it and always be honest and authentic. I will choose who to be with, and not cling on to someone or something because I need to be in a relationship. For anyone reading this, I’m glad you want to write a goodbye letter because it is so healing. If you send it, it will help the other person. And remember that YOU are stronger than you think, even though it is painful. Peace!”
These tips for writing a goodbye letter to someone you care about are general. They can be applied to your specific situation, whether you’re saying goodbye to husband after years of marriage, a pastor after years of service, or a work colleague after decades of working together.
You might send a goodbye letter to someone who:
- Died unexpectedly, before you had a chance to say goodbye
- Broke up with you without warning, or even after years of a faltering relationship
- Divorced you after a long marriage
- Is retiring or leaving a job after years of working together
- Didn’t give you a chance to share how you feel about the end of the relationship
Before you start, remember that a goodbye letter is NOT a breakup letter. There is a difference between saying goodbye to someone you care about and breaking up with someone. A goodbye letter is a way of bringing closure to a relationship that has ended. A breakup letter is a letter that ends a relationship.
How to Write a Goodbye Letter
Write your letter on actual paper, with your hand. Use a nice pen. Don’t worry about your penmanship, spelling, or even grammar! Just write from your heart.
Don’t write your goodbye letter in an email, text, or through social media. You care about this person; take time to write your thoughts in your own hand on a physical card or letter.
Write a first draft of your goodbye letter
It may seem like extra work (and it is), but writing a first draft before writing the actual goodbye letter will help you organize your thoughts, sort through your feelings, and share appropriately. After all, your goodbye letter may exist for a long time. You don’t want to put certain things in writing, such as allegations or comments that are motivated by feelings of anger, fear, or betrayal.
Your first draft is where you get all your emotions and swirling thoughts out without editing yourself. You share your innermost self in your first draft without worrying about what anyone thinks. Why? Because your first draft is for your eyes only. This will make the rest of my tips on how to write a goodbye letter to someone you care about easier.
Think about their personality, hobbies, likes, dislikes
Before you start writing your goodbye letter – or in your first draft – think about who you’re writing to. Just pause. Take a deep breath, and remember who the person was when you first met. What were your first impressions, where did you meet, how did your lives interconnect?
You might also think about your loved one’s response to this goodbye letter. I assume you’re looking for help on how to write a goodbye letter because you believe it’s a healthy way to bring closure to a relationship. So, what personality traits make you think your person will benefit from this letter?
You can’t control how the person responds to your goodbye letter. But, you can ensure you’re writing with insight and awareness of their personality. This will help ensure you’re writing this letter for the right reasons.
If you can’t send your letter to the person you care about, read How to Carry On When You Had No Time to Say Goodbye.
Know your purpose for writing this goodbye letter
Take a moment to consider your reasons for writing. Think about your motives. Do you want to make the other person feel bad or guilty, or are you struggling with unresolved feelings about the end of the relationship? Maybe you want feedback, forgiveness, or closure.
If you’re writing to elicit a specific response from the person (an apology, for example), then a goodbye letter might not be the most appropriate way. Read How to Say Goodbye to learn how to find closure without expecting something in return.
Consider including a few basic elements in your letter
Your goodbye letter might include:
- Your first memories of the person, or how you met
- Acknowledgement of the reason the relationship ended
- Your feelings about your relationship in better days, and how it ended
- Blessings and good wishes for their future
- A quote, such as “But fate ordains that dearest friends must part.” ~ Edward Young.
My final tip on how to write a goodbye letter to someone you care about is to end well. Offer your blessings and wishes for a healthy, happy, peaceful life. Send this person off with hope, love, joy, and freedom. Blow him a kiss, and believe this was meant to be.
If you’re writing this goodbye letter as a way of working through your grief, read How to Let Go of Someone You Love.
What have I missed? I welcome your thoughts below…