a last[ing] letter
A Lasting Letter is a letter written to someone you care about, someone who you wish to hear your voice and read your words long into the future. Sometimes referred to as a 'legacy letter,' this letter holds the words that carry one's voice forward in time.
The letter can take many forms: long or short, a memento of a moment or a history of a lifetime, a connection made or missed, an instruction or a confession, a love letter, and everything in between.
Each letter is unique: each voice, each intention is individual.
Everyone has a letter in them.
My name is Frish Brandt. I am a ‘letter midwife.’
With careful listening, intuitive questions, and heartfelt conversation I will help you find the words that form your letter. Listening is as much a part of my practice as writing.
Last[ing] Letters is the focus of my work which I provide through hospice, healing circles, chaplains, palliative care doctors and others who are interested. I have been practicing and providing this service for over five years, and through that time I’ve completed over 100 letters; and still, each letter has its own unique voice.
how it works
Everyone has a letter in them. While a diagnosis is often an incentive, the fact is we are all mortal.
Writing a letter is a deeply comforting and creative act focused on the future at a time when so much feels so very finite. At a time when there is much gravity, the people with whom I work find the letter-writing process uplifting.
My hope, with this work, is that it brings comfort to the letter writer and to the letter receiver.
thoughtful things people have said about this work
Very few have the capacity for such empathy. Even fewer can translate that into the poetry of the written word.
– Tina K.
Your letter... is a treasure beyond all words... The way you see the world, hear it, imagine it, then craft it so others can step inside and feel your embrace...even when you are not in the room. It is a gift that transcends space and time. It is lasting.
– Dawn G.
While the letter retains my story and voice, it's not something I could have done on my own. You can listen to the heart speak and then distill all that verbal noise into something essential and pithy and meaningful.
Your work with my mother was life changing for us.
– Tara V
I don’t know how to thank you for setting me free from the hidden baggage I had kept locked up.
I'll never forget the aha moments I had with you when writing the letter to my grandma.... I'm much more patient and compassionate with her now, which is a true gift.
– Dara K.
These kind of stories and processes help push the soft, beautiful edges of hospice into the light of those who otherwise just don’t know!
– William, hospice worker
You captured the essence of what I was trying to say… Beautifully written. I felt heard. You made me feel safe and validated.
– Julia H
I wish I had you to work with my mom while she still had her voice and thoughts. Though I know she loved me deeply, it would be lovely to have her thoughts.
I would give anything to have a last communication from each of my parents.
– M. C.
how we begin
You do not need to be clear on what you want to say or even to whom you are writing. You only need to know that you wish to write a letter. I’ve written thank you letters, I’m sorry letters, I need to tell you something letters, and more. You may not know what your letter will be until we begin. We will figure that out together.
We will find a time either in-person or over the telephone to talk about the letter you are thinking about.
Typically our first letter-writing conversation will take 60-90 minutes in which we will talk, I’ll ask questions, we’ll explore possibilities and then I will take what you said and weave it into a letter. We will edit it back and forth until we feel we’ve got the right words and thoughts.
Commonwealth Club, with B.J. Miller & Shoshana Berger A Beginner's Guide to The End
A Beginner's Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death
By B.J. Miller, MD & Shoshana Berger
The Conversation Project
National Hospice Foundation
KALW public radio, San Francisco
February 4, 2017
January 28, 2017
Sun Valley Center
March 10, 2016