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words for a lifetime project

Project mission: To facilitate healing, peace of heart, and human connection through the written word.

Who benefits: People of all ages involved with a situation of terminal illness, hospice, or palliative care.

Measurable results: There will be ten project participants in this phase of the Words for a Lifetime Project. Project participants are terminally ill or have a significant relationship with one considered to be terminally ill.

When coping with issues associated with death and dying, words are often hard to find. Although the ill or their loved ones may long to express appreciation or forgiveness, or wish to complete their relationships as they face death, they may be too full of emotion to gain clarity enough to articulate these healing words themselves. There may be a deep desire for a legacy of words, or a need to let go of a dear one knowing that the words that matter most have been said.  A letter of significance at such times can bring deep and lasting inner peace.

After an in-person conversation of up to two hours in length, I will provide the participant with one or more custom-written letter(s)—of love, appreciation, forgiveness, or desire for healing or completion—for their loved one.

The benefits and outcomes associated with the practice of writing as facilitator of healing, peace of heart, and human connection will be tracked, recorded, and published. Participants may choose to remain anonymous.

A minimum of three media organizations will cover the project.

Funds in the amount of $3800 will be raised for the project.

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Mother Theresa says, “There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

While we live in a so-called connected world, where texting, e-mailing, instant messaging, and other continual cyber-opportunities for staying in touch abound, we may find that the connections that matter most are the ones that take time to nurture and nourish. The “slow words” of a carefully considered card or letter bring balance to the experience of our written expressions and enable us to savor more deeply our life and our human connections. Celebrating, nurturing, healing, or completing our relationships represents some of the most important work we can do in our lives; the written word provides a powerful avenue for accomplishing this fulfilling task.

The Words for a Lifetime Project seeks to support and underscore research carried out by Ira Byock, MD, who opens his well-known book, The Four Things That Matter Most, thus: “Please forgive me. I forgive you. Thank you. I love you. These four simple statements are powerful tools for improving your relationships and your life . . . . these four short sentences carry the core wisdom of what people who are dying have taught me about what matters most in life.”


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