by Dianne Neal Matthews
When I visit my mom in another state, I usually drive her to the rural community she grew up in to visit my grandparents’ graves. A couple of years ago, we added a visit to my great-grandparents’ graves in another community. The first thing I noticed while pulling in front of the little country church was a mailbox at the edge of the cemetery. The sight seemed so odd—until I walked closer and saw faded lettering that indicated the purpose of the mailbox: to receive donations for upkeep of the graves.
The image stayed in my mind. That night I decided that a cemetery might be a good location for a mailbox after all. How many of us have unresolved issues with loved ones who have passed away? Words we wish we would have spoken, or words we wish we could apologize for. Expressions of affirmation or love or reconciliation that we could have, should have shared.
Other people still hurt from losing a loved one suddenly, with no warning and no chance to say any goodbye at all. The wound caused by that tearing away feels as though it will never heal.
Providing an opportunity to write a letter to a loved one near his or her place of burial might bring healing and closure to many people. Even better if the letters were read by prayer warriors who committed to pray for the writers’ peace and emotional health.
While we wait for this idea to catch on, it might be therapeutic to write a note—for your eyes only—of what you wish you could say to someone who left too soon. And then, let’s look around at the family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and casual acquaintances we still have around us and think: What words do I need to speak or write to someone today?
Dianne Neal Matthews is the author of four daily devotional books including The One Year Women of the Bible and Designed for Devotion, which won a 2013 Selah Award. She also writes for websites and blogs, and contributes to compilations (including Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus). To learn more, visit www.DianneNealMatthews.com or connect with Dianne through Facebook or Twitter.