When someone close to us dies, we enter a period of intense grief as we struggle to come to terms with the reality that the loved person is gone.
If the loss was sudden and unexpected, shock can occur with an immediate overwhelm of emotion and confusion.
If the loss was expected, perhaps after an illness, a person can be grieving well in advance of the person passing away.
In her seminal text ‘On Death and Dying’ Swiss psychiatrist Kubler-Ross introduced her model f on the stages of grief.
The model proposes a period of time during which a grieving person typically moves through various difficult stages and emotions until they reach a point of acceptance. At this stage, a sense of looking forward and planning activities starts to emerge as the person re-engages back into life as best they can.
It is unfortunately necessary that grief be experienced, particularly at the stages that lead to acceptance of reality. It is less useful that a person use the Unsent Letter as a way of helping with their grief.
The Unsent Letter for extended and dysfunctional grief
It is necessary that grief is experienced and professional counselling is very helpful in helping to manage the process.
However if grief becomes extended, where a person becomes stuck and unable to get emotional closure on their loss, the Unsent Letter can be useful to help a person work through their emotion and gain more closure.
In these situations, multiple writings can help over time helping to write-out grief and feelings of being stuck.