How Do You Say a Final Goodbye?


Like all of you, I was shaken last weekend when I heard the sad news that we had experienced the single deadliest day of the Afghanistan conflict. Remember that outrageous, sexist article about why women should want to date a Navy SEAL? I wonder how the author of that piece feels now.....

Not long ago, I updated and revised all my legal paperwork (Will, Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney). If anything happens to me, I'm all set, or at least my survivors are. Right?


As more information on the service members we lost began to trickle in, my thoughts kept going to the spouses of the fallen. Not just from this tragedy, but all of them. What were the last conversations between spouses like? Were there things left unsaid? Are there things that were said or written which will comfort the survivors and help ease the pain, at least a little?

I decided that I wanted my husband to have something from me in writing if, God forbid, anything happens to me in the near-term. So, I sat down to compose a final good-bye letter. For someone not known for being at a loss for words, no matter the topic, I found it challenging to even get started. What do you say when you know this will be the last thing your spouse reads from you?

After about an hour of starts and stops and general nothingness, I began the letter with a joke to lighten the mood. I also made a concerted effort to be brief. For one thing, if my husband doesn't already know some of the things I thought about saying, then I haven't performed my role as his life partner all that well. And for another thing, I could easily go on and on and on about our lives together, but that wasn't really what I wanted to do. Mostly, I wanted my husband to have something special to hold on to if he needs it one day, and I wanted to be sure that a few things always stayed with him. Sweet and succinct, the final product was a mere two pages. I also enclosed my all-time favorite photo of the two of us. The photo says as much about our lives together than my words. Maybe more.

This was hard. It was gut-wrenching and it was uncomfortable. But, for me, it needed to be done.

From a legal point of view, having all my documents in proper order is the best thing I can do for my survivors and my estate (such as it is), but from an emotional point of view, getting this letter written gave me more peace of mind than anything else I've done to prepare for the worst. Plus, I think my husband would laugh and see this as my final attempt at having the last word....

Life is full of surprises. Many are great. Others are not. If you don't have your "business" in order, there's no time like the present. And if you want to leave a letter, video or something personal for your spouse, children, parents or other loved ones in the event of your death or incapacitation, do it. As hard as it is to even imagine the worst, you never know what tomorrow, or even next hour, may bring.

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