Letter writing is an all but lost art. Who doesn’t love the surprise of opening their mailbox and finding a letter or card from a loved one or friend?
God has blessed my sweet Momma with several friends and family members who routinely take time out of their busy days to send their love in a little paper envelope with a postage stamp affixed. Even though she is sometimes bewildered by the identity of the letter writer, she enjoys opening the beautiful cards and reading the loving notes penned within. I found this excellent article that addresses this topic of writing letters to those with dementia so well, but if my mail-loving Momma could share some tips with you about writing to those like her who are afflicted with a form of dementia, I think she would tell you:
- Keep it short and sweet. It’s hard for me to read a lot of words and make sense of things.
- Avoid abbreviations and acronyms. I have lost the ability to figure out what they mean. For example, I can’t remember for the life of me that SCC stands for my beloved Spring Creek Church. But, don’t worry if you forget. My daughter will help me out and she’ll write it in for me.
- Make sure the ink color you use stands out on the paper you choose. My eyes have a hard time with color perception now. My brain plays crazy tricks on me. It’s almost impossible for me, for instance, to read blue ink on paper of a similar hue, or to pick words out of a busy background on a card.
- Help me remember who you are and how we know each other. For instance:
- “This is your grandson, Joe here. My Mom, Vivian, told me…..”
- “Aunt Charlotte, I remember when you and Uncle Jerry __________.”
- “My dear friend, I miss working with you! I remember when we _____.”
- “Oh how I loved being your neighbor! Your flowers were so lovely.”
- “Didn’t we have a wonderful church family at ____________? It was fun to serve the Lord together in the __________ ministry. Those were the days!
- Share what I mean to you. Tell me something you remember about our time together, or something I taught you. I promise I will read this over and over again.
- Perhaps include a photo of a memory we made together. If you have a picture of us together, please share it (but label it with our names and a little reminder of what we were doing). Pictures – especially ones from long ago – have a way of evoking memories and conjuring up stories I can tell.
- Keep it upbeat. It’s probably not a good idea to send me newspaper clippings of obituaries, or share the news about our friend fighting cancer, or other troubling news. I have a tendency to dwell on news like this and worry too much. DO enclose a picture drawn by a child. I will wear this picture out showing it to every one!
- Please include your last name in your correspondence, even if we are family or friends who knew one another very well. My remember-er doesn’t remember very well anymore.
- Don’t be too sad if I don’t write back. I have good intentions and will probably start a letter to you one-hundred times. But, I just can’t keep my thoughts together long enough to write a meaningful sentence anymore.
- Assure me of your prayers and tell me you love me. Everyone needs to hear that.
Next time you sit down with pen in hand to address a card or letter, remember that you’re sending a little messenger with a smile in that envelope, and you will bring joy to the heart of the one who receives your message.
“Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.” Proverbs 15:30 (NIV)