Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Letter's Project

Writing letters to a loved one who has died can be very helpful while on a grief journey. So believes Von Kopfman, whose son Jacob, 21, died in a work-related accident last year. He credits Jacob’s twin brother, Jordan, and a psychologist for showing him a way to heal and help others.

Jacob had fallen from a cell-phone tower while at work. Kopfman was notified and he found out when he arrived at the hospital that his son was dead. Jordan was angry because he hadn’t said good-bye to his twin. The psychologist suggested Jordan write a letter to Jacob. Jordan thought it was stupid and didn’t do it for a couple of weeks. When he eventually did and told his father he thought it helped, Kopfman also wrote a letter and was surprised to learn the effects of what is called narrative therapy.

Kopfman said that when you write a letter to a loved one, you get caught up in the belief that you are actually speaking to that person, particularly a hand-written one where true emotions can be released.

Jordan asked his dad, who is a songwriter, to turn his letter into a song. It was posted on Facebook and “the letters project” was born.

Kopfman knew that other parents who had lost children in the previous two years were not doing well and so suggested they write letters to their children also. After doing so and having Kopfman turn their letters into songs also, some friends suggested the project should be a book and CD.

At first Kopfman refused, saying the letters were too personal to share with strangers. But later he found families very receptive to the idea who hadn’t even written their letters yet!

“The loss of a child is completely different than any other kind of loss,” Kopfman said. “There is a fear that they’ll be forgotten, so you set up shrines, for yourself. Now the letter’s project will help keep their memories alive.”

The book has been released recently with the unedited letters in a font that looks like handwriting. From meeting people on his Facebook page and other online sources, Kopfman’s book has approximately 300 letters ranging in length from four sentences to twelve pages. A photo and biography of the person to whom they were written is also included. The CD includes some of these letters.

A second book about letters from terminally ill children will be published sometime this year. They will be telling the world whatever they want about themselves, so as not to be forgotten. Collages made by the children will accompany their letters. Profits from this second book will be shared among the families who letters appear in the books, as they often have been left with large bills after the deaths of their loved ones, according to Kopfman.

He said that he hopes the books inspire others to write letters to loved ones, no matter how long ago they died, because it is never too late for them to get help with their grief.

Kopfman has found that in helping others deal with their grief, he has helped himself.

For more information on the letter’s project, Kopfman can be contacted at

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