Written by Jake, a Winston’s Wish content creator
Sending a letter to yourself seems like a weird thing to do right? Actually – it’s an amazing thing to do. I think you should give it a go. You’d be surprised how helpful it can be.
Writing is a great way to express yourself, and writing to yourself means no-one else has to read it if you don’t want them to. It’s a safe place to be really honest, and when you are really honest with yourself, incredible things can start to happen.
I’m sharing mine with you now, because I’m not ashamed of any of my feelings and it helps me see how far I’ve come – further than I ever thought possible. And if you join me in doing it, you’ll reveal genuinely useful, practical steps you can take to edge towards coping in the way you want to cope, and becoming the person you want to be.
Try following the prompts I’ve used to help guide you through the process. You can draw pictures to decorate it if that’s more your thing. When you feel lost, revisit your letter. Add to it, update it, or just read it again which can also help.
Grief can be a confusing time. I made a promise to never get over losing my sister and best friend, Eve. I wish I had written this when it all happened because I’m sure it would have helped me cope with my grief in a better way. Creating something like a letter to yourself can help you feel your goals are within your grasp and within your control.
So, follow my lead, use the headers, and write a positive path for yourself. If, (and only if) you feel able, share it with Winston’s Wish and with each other, because we’re never alone. Great things await you. Write them down and let them in.
What’s going on right now?
Right now, in this moment, I feel confused when I think about Eve. It’s like I keep feeling she’s going to walk back in at any moment, but I know she’s not. I almost feel like I can reach out to just a few days ago and grab her, but of course I can’t. I have no idea how I can get to a place where I’m OK with it.
People keep telling me time is a great healer, but every minute is like an hour, every hour is like a day and at the same time every second is just rushing past. I know that’s hard to understand but that’s how I feel, like I’m getting further away from her, and I want time to stop, but also for it to just fast forward. It’s very scary.
What are things I admire?
I’ve seen my grandma handle loss with such good grace. She never feels bitter, she finds a way to accept the reality of whatever happens and just keeps marching forward. I know it’s ok to cry, or to have days where you don’t feel you can cope, but she just keeps putting one foot in front of the other and focuses on what is happening right now. I hope I can find a way to be more like her.
What are behaviours I aspire to?
I want to take action and responsibility for my life. I don’t want to believe that life is about luck whether it’s good or bad. I don’t want to label myself as lucky or unlucky. Life is always changing, and this is just a moment in time. Everywhere you look, people are facing challenges and I want to find the motivation to carry on, to be the best person I can be. Eve’s presence always lit up a room, and I want to bring light into other people’s lives too.
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What memories can I use as strength?
I always remember Eve would come into my room after Mum or Dad had put me to bed and I was supposed to be asleep. She would chat to me, make me laugh, sing and dance, or tickle me or tell me about her day and ask me about mine. We played tricks on each other and when I was with her there was nowhere I would rather be. I want to use that as inspiration. I hope I can be that person for someone else one day, like for my own children or my nieces and nephews.
Challenges and growth:
I know there will be hard days ahead and that’s ok and I want to face them by reminding myself they will pass. When I’m older I want to look back at how these experiences have positively shaped my life and my choices. I want to see how resilient I have been, and how it will better help me cope with other things that life throws at me. We can’t all choose everything that happens to us, and I want to be able to manage anything life has in store for me with dignity and grace. Life is a gift that I want to treasure, even when it feels hard.
The best way I can honour Eve is to cherish every moment of my life. It was a life she cherished and now she doesn’t have that chance I want to make the most of mine so I can be proud, and so she will be proud of me.
What can I promise myself?
I promise to give my all to everything I try. I promise not to be afraid of failing. I promise to be kind to myself. To forgive myself when I go wrong. I promise to be patient with myself, and with my family who are on their own journey. I promise to be thankful for the time I had with Eve. I know she is here in my heart. I promise not to let fear rule my life. It’s ok to feel afraid. Courage isn’t about not feeling fear. It is about feeling fear and having the bravery to continue regardless.
What’s my mantra?
I am strong.
I am resilient.
I will find a way forward and into a brighter tomorrow.
Nothing can stop me.
Whenever you feel sad, acknowledge when it is there. It’s part of your experience, but it does not define you. It is how you react to it that shapes you, and you can choose how you react to it.
Have courage and reach out and accept the help of those available to you when you need it. One day when you recover your strength, you’ll be able to help those that are also grieving.
How to get help
If you’re struggling with grief right now, Winston’s Wish is here to help and here to listen. Winston’s Wish provides support for grieving children and young people (up to the age of 25). We offer one-to-one and group support sessions. We also have lots of online resources and a Helpline and email service where you can talk to bereavement professionals.
If you need urgent support in a crisis, you can contact the 24/7 Winston’s Wish Crisis Messenger by texting WW to 85258.