Writing a letter that says goodbye to someone you care about isn’t easy, but it can bring healing. My tips on how to write a goodbye letter are based on my experience with a variety of losses and inspired by a reader’s comment.
A goodbye momento, such as Willow Tree Shine, is a lovely way to say goodbye to someone you care about – even if the relationship ended unexpectedly. Even if you never give this momento to the person, it can be your own symbol of your relationship. It might be a reminder of how deeply you loved and lost, or what you learned. It might also be a symbol of letting go and freedom.
I was inspired to share my process of writing goodbye letters by a reader. On What is Relationship Closure? How to Heal Without a Goodbye Michelle said, “Since my ex-boyfriend would not call or communicate, I wrote him a goodbye letter. I told him I needed closure for ME! I needed to let him know my feelings about the breakup.” Before writing the “good” goodbye letter, Michelle also wrote him a very angry, blunt letter and burned it along with some Sage to get rid of her negative energy. And there’s your first tip on how to write a goodbye letter: don’t send your first draft. It’s probably more emotional than you’d like, and you may regret the outburst. Here, I share my process for writing goodbye letters, plus tips on how to write to someone you care.
My reader 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, thanks for sharing your stories and remember that YOU are stronger than you think, even though it is painful. Peace!”
These tips will work if you need to say goodbye to someone who:
- Died before you had a chance to say goodbye
- Broke up with you unexpectedly
- Left you after a long marriage
- Is retiring 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
Since I don’t know your specific situation, I can’t write directly to you. You’ll need to tweak these tips and make them yours…
How to Write a Goodbye Letter
Before you get started, remember that a goodbye letter is NOT a breakup letter. There is a difference between saying goodbye and breaking up with someone. A goodbye letter is a way of bringing closure to a relationship that has ended. A breakup letter, on the other hand, is a letter that ends a relationship.
If you actually need to break up with someone you care about, read How to Write a Breakup Letter. I don’t encourage breaking up via letters, texts, voicemail, or other impersonal forms of communication. But, a breakup letter accompanied by an in-person discussion of why you’re breaking up can be a healthy way to end a relationship.
Prepare to write a first draft of your goodbye letter
It may seem like a lot of work, 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.
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Think about who you’re writing to
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.
Ask yourself why you want to write this goodbye letter
Before we proceed to the next tip on how to write a goodbye letter to someone you care about, 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
“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.
Question for you: What have I missed? I welcome your thoughts on how to write a goodbye letter to someone you care about below.
I can’t offer advice for your specific situation, but you may find it helpful to share your experience. You might even treat your comment as the first draft of your goodbye letter.