Monday, December 12, 2011

Tip #55: Death Letters

As many of you may or may not know, this last November, the weekend before Thanksgiving, the global Goth community lost an icon to a tragic and senseless car accident that snuffed out her life as easily as one would blow out an innocent candle. Jeniviva Mia was only 37 years old, although she lived the life equivalent of three 90 year olds! She was a founder of the Gothic belly dancing movement, a beautiful soul, and a dear friend of mine, not to mention to hundreds of others.

Indeed, that her life was cut so short deeply affected all those that were close to her, and especially reinforced our sense of Gothic state-of-mind -- that death is swift, lurks around every corner, and does not discriminate, thus we are in constant mourning to appreciate the life we have! Not only did dear Jeniviva's death bring a lot of people together in sorrow (the remote funeral home was overwhelmed by over 500 mourners over a two day period soaked by an appropriately dreary and relentless rainstorm) to pay their last respects to this wonderful siren and shining spirit, but it also inspired and cultivated an idea in my brain that, I believe, as Goths we should incorporate into our lives...or should I say...our deaths.

Allow me a moment to state right here that this tip is not particularly romantic as it is downright Gothic...and maybe to some it might seem extremely morbid. So be it. I find this tip to be at the core of being Goth...

The idea, in principle, is a cross between a Will and a suicide note. It is a Death Letter. Irregardless of any life factors (age, illness, lifestyle, income, etc.) you are to write individual letters (not an email or a tweet -- physical pen on paper) to those who are most important or meaningful in your life -- past and present lovers, family, friends, and maybe even enemies! In these letters, to be read by the intended recipients after the inevitable event of your death, you are free to divulge, detail, and describe your honest feelings and opinions about said person and, more importantly, the relationship between the both of you.

First, immediately, write a list of to whom you would be writing these death letters for. It should pretty much look like a Halloween or Xmas gift shopping list. Then, organize this list by level of importance the person is in your life. Soon after, when your inspiration or allotted time allows, sit down and write out your letters.

Start your letter as thus:
Dear "________________"
If you are reading this it means that I've passed on. The reason of this letter is to share some my final thoughts with you since I am no longer able to do so in person...(and go on with it from there...)

As you write these letters, keep in mind that the reader will see this after you no longer are a memory, and these words are your only last thoughts. Liberate your pent up thoughts and revelations. Be extremely honest! Will you divulge a secret love for a close friend? Will you tell a family member that they suffer from a body odor problem? Will you tell an ex how horribly you were treated by him/her? Will you tell your mother that you did indeed love her although you both fought like cats & dogs for years? Or, will you finally confess to that horrible crime you got away with for so many years? Let the ink from the pen flow! It can be one paragraph, or it can be twenty pages long!

Next, stuff the letters in individual envelopes with simply the recipient's name on it. On your list of names you can add the mailing addresses of the recipients to help the trusted messenger deliver them after your sad departing. Also on your list, note the date when you wrote the letter. It is important here to revisit these letters at least once a year or so since feelings may change over time as you further into life...and it is also quite possible that those on your list arrive at death's door before you do. If so, you can ceremonially burn their letter outdoors (without causing a forest-fire) to release the contents into the Ether.

Now, after these letters are amassed, you should squirrel them away in a box, drawer, safety deposit box, etc., and enter the details to the whereabouts of these letters in your Will or entrust it to the "messenger" mentioned above. In my mind, I picture it quite darkly romantic that these letters should be doled to out the recipients at the author's have them read right then in there...if, you aren't too cruel with your words, that is!

I hope that you adopt this tip into your lives, even as morbid as it might seem. You might just make someone close to you learn something about themselves and in turn can enrich their own lives! I'd say that I would be honored to receive such a letter from anyone of you, but that might not come out right...

Lastly, I want to end this tip with a quote my dearly departed friend Jeniviva wrote on her Facebook wall only about a week before her own passing:
"Cry not for those who died, cry for those left behind."

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