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HELP: I didn't get to say goodbye how do I get closure after the death of my brother?

Updated: May 1, 2023

Whether you were loving and present every day during a prolonged illness or you couldn't be at their bedside, chances are you’re wishing more was said. Writing the unspoken to your departed can be cathartic. The following exercise invites you to facilitate closure by writing to your departed starting with Dr. Byock's four key messages: I'm sorry, I forgive you, I love you, and Thank you. Consider treating your letter with reverence by burning, burying, or saving it.


"I'm sorry" Undoubtably regret will emerge whenever imperfect humans interact. Even if we had the opportunity to ask for forgiveness during a loved one's final days, more regrets can emerge. Asking for forgiveness in writing can stop any festering regrets and start healing the soul. Some wrong doing is born out of spite but most often it's out of ignorance. Hindsight can uncover countless regrets. Consider, the following phrase as you write: "I'm sorry, had I known.....I would never have....please forgive me."


"I forgive you" Again, all of us are imperfect and are shaped by our circumstances, biology and environment. Chances are that we need to forgive each other for big and small things. Forgiving is not forgetting but releasing the hurt of unmet expectations. Forgiving allows you to release the hurt and anger that may harm you in the long-term.


“I love you” If you are grieving, it’s because you love that person. Asking for forgiveness and forgiving allows you to feel the love that you have. This will naturally lead to the next step, feeling gratitude.


“Thank you” Acknowledge what they mean to you, your bond and adventures. Thank them for making you a better person and for teaching you small and big things.


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