New Ideas! Lasting Letters

Everyone has a letter in them. Sometimes you just need a little help writing it.

“I am a letter midwife,” says Frish Brandt, President & Partner at the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco where she has worked for over 35 years. Beginning in 2014, Frish developed a practice of letter writing for others, which she does as a volunteer through various hospice-related organizations to help others nearing the end of their lives express themselves.

Frish created her site Last[ing] Letters to help anyone anywhere with the often daunting task to put pen to paper and share their voice with loved ones.

A Last[ing] Letter is a letter written to someone you care about, someone you wish to hear your voice and read your words long into the future. Sometimes referred to as a “legacy letter,” this letter holds the words that carry one’s voice forward in time.

Your letter can take many forms: long or short, thank you, I love you, I’m sorry, I need to tell you something.  While the focus is on the recipient, the process has proven heartening and enlivening for the letter writer as well. Each letter is ​unique: each voice, each intention is ​individual.

With careful listening, intuitive questions, and heartfelt conversation, Frish guides you to find the best words to form your letter. Last[ing] Letters began as a service provided through hospice, healing circles, chaplains and palliative care doctors and has grown to include anyone who has a lasting letter they wish to write to a loved one. While a diagnosis is often an incentive, living and loving can be catalyst enough.

How does the process work?

It starts with an email from Frish. You only need to know that you wish to write a letter – not necessarily who you are writing to or what you wish to say. She facilitates finding your words together. You’ll connect and find a time to talk. Typically, the first letter-writing conversation will take 60-90 minutes: Frish ask questions, you’ll chat, and the letter will start to take shape. She then shares a draft of the letter, you’ll refine it and continue until you’ve got the right words and thoughts that make the letter uniquely and truly yours.

How much does this service cost?

Frish doesn’t let money stand in the way of a letter. Her service is available on a sliding scale: $75-300 for a letter depending on one’s comfort zone. The people who pay for her service allow Frish to volunteer it to others, which she does through hospice and palliative care patients at Stanford Health Care, Hospice by the Bay, Commonweal, and others.

Is there someone in your life you’d like to send a Last[ing] Letter to?

You don’t need to be a writer, just reach out to Frish and she’ll hold your hand along the journey. And sooner than you realize you’ll have created a long-lasting legacy in the personal form of one of our oldest ways of communicating with each other: the handwritten letter.

Mark Noonan, Founder – Farewell Project
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