Writing cards for future occasions

You may want to consider putting a card or two into your Plan If for special occasions in the future. This might be for your child’s 21st birthday or wedding day. Children who have unexpectedly received a card from their late parent tell us that they are deeply touched to think of the parent in the past imagining their future child, and imagining the day when the card is finally opened. ‘I thought of her imagining my wedding day and somehow also imagining that she might not be here with me so she wrote me this card. I wish with all my heart she was here with me today but the card is a tiny comfort and a link to all those wonderful memories’.

Equally, other people may react differently; consider the impact of such a card if your child’s adult life has not fitted your imaginings. Think about the impact on them of knowing you had written a card for a wedding day that has not happened, or to welcome grandchildren who were never born, or to congratulate them on graduation day when they dropped out of college. You know your child(ren) best; trust your instincts. One way round this might be with leaving these letters with a trusted friend, rather than with your Plan If, who would pass them on to your child if appropriate.

The key things to cover in any such card include:

  • a recognition of the event (graduation, 21st, wedding day)
  • your pride and your hopes for the future
  • gentle regret at not being there to share the day
  • and a lot of love…

It is now possible to use websites such as Dead Social, Record Me Now, Once I've Gone etc to record messages to be played at various times in the future; in theory, well into the future.

You will know best whether this would be a positive thing: some families feel it would be distressing to receive a birthday greeting from a long-dead relative, others find the idea charming.

Writing letters and cards for future events pre-supposes that all such messages would be welcome: children may not have had an uncomplicated relationship with the person who has died and annual reminders may be disconcerting. On the other hand, many children have treasured notes for all their lives from a parent who has died.

There are examples of commercially produced boxes of cards that can be used to note special thoughts. One example (‘A Little Box of Big Thoughts’) is available from Winston's Wish here. The cards have starters written on them such as ‘I feel proud when you...’, ‘A favourite memory I have is...’, ‘You make me laugh when...’.

Writing to family and friends

While Plan If is aimed at putting in place the things that will help children, it would be wonderful for all members of the family and close friends to receive a personal note, however brief, from you in the event of your death. Such notes could include:

  • appreciation for the role they have played in your life
  • some shared memory/memories
  • your hopes for them in the future.