By Dawn Griffin
I am a person whose mother is aging and dealing with cognitive decline. Over two years ago I returned to Denver to participate as a part of our family team in supporting her. Since that time she has been advised that she should no longer drive. She is by no means “a shut in” because she has a good network of friends and family that keep her engaged socially. However, because she is still in her own home and can’t get out when she feels the urge, she senses being more cut off and lonely. When I was living with her, I began to feel a sense of losing my own life as I became the primary source of filling her deepening need for human connection.
To bring more joy into my days I began writing anonymous love letters that I would take and leave in public places. This was inspired by the following TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/hannah_brencher_love_letters_to_strangers.html. I would read the letters to my mom after I wrote them and she always said, I would love to be one of the people finding a letter like this.
As she became more depressed and anxious about her situation, I suggested that we begin writing anonymous love letters that I could take to a Meals on Wheels coordinating location to be given to the drivers to deliver randomly with meals to those they sensed most needed them. I wrote a handful of letters, but my mom was worried that she wouldn’t know what to say to a stranger and that she wouldn’t do it right. My thought was that if the people receiving these letters were uplifted by them they could begin writing their own anonymous letters, imagining people in similar situations to themselves and sharing a few words that they would find uplifting.
This could begin to generate a supply of letters from within the shut-in community and put them in the mindset of compassion for others in their situation. This would help fill their days with other thoughts than their own circumstances. They would simply hand the anonymous letters they had written to the driver when he or she came to add to their supply to be distributed.
Meals On Wheels is a natural network that is already in place for making this happen. It is simply a matter of getting people on board to begin writing some letters to start the process. The letters don’t need to be long. A few sentences could positively influence someone’s day.
Following are two examples of letters, but keep in mind that whatever people share from their own authentic voice of compassion will be perfect!
Even though I don’t know you personally, I know for sure that you are a precious gift to the universe, even as you feel your connection to it becoming more limited. I imagine myself sitting down with you over a cup of tea or coffee to hear the tale of a cherished moment in your life. Perhaps you could share it in a letter that will find its way to someone you imagine on the other side of the table. And, who knows, if you give it back to the Meals On Wheels driver, it may even finds its way back to me. Regardless, of who receives it, I trust that it will end up with the person who most needs it.
I imagine my hand reaching to gently touch yours in affirmation of the love that I know is the essence of your being. Life’s circumstances may seem harsh at times, but every moment we get to choose how we let those circumstances shape us.
I love to write short, 10-syllable poems. This one is for you!
in your core
and I will feel you
Blessings from the love that takes many forms.
I’m not much of a letter writer, but I do know how it feels to know that someone has taken the time out of their day to think of me and to express it in a note.
Sometimes the days can seem long, but when I turn my attention to bringing a little joy to someone else by sharing a bit of humor I don’t notice what hurts as much. I always appreciate when people make me laugh, so I’ll share some sayings from George Burns. He’s my aging coach!
“You know you’re getting old when you stoop to tie your shoelaces and wonder what else you could do while you’re down there.”
“Retirement at sixty-five is ridiculous. When I was sixty-five I still had pimples.”
Also, one of the world’s oldest centenarians was asked what the best thing was about reaching such an impressive age. Her response was, “No peer pressure.”
I hope this brings a smile to your face. I know thinking about you brought one to me.
Make it a good one!
Visit Hannah Brencher's Love Letter blog: http://www.moreloveletters.com/