Welcome to my guest Debbie Gruber, founder of Heart Writing. Her story—and her business—take a fascinating approach to connection and the writing of personal handwritten notes. I believe it's worth your consideration.
Why send a message for delivery after you're gone?
At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss the value of posthumous notes. To begin with, just the very word “posthumous” carries creepy connotations that may make us uncomfortable. We envision morbid images – ghosts, graves, headstones and the like. Who wants to think about that? And, since the notes are posthumous, we’re never going to know anything about the receiver’s experience.
Did the note bring a smile to their face?
Did they feel special after reading the note?
Why go to the trouble of writing a personal note if you’ll never get any feedback? So, I came to the conclusion that posthumous notes were of little importance. But one day, while contemplating a trip to Spain, that began to change.
What if I never see them again?
A couple of years back, as late-in-life parents of two teenage boys, my husband and I were chomping at the bit to have a “parents only” vacation. I had always wanted to visit Spain. Traveling while our sons were at sleepaway camp seemed like the perfect opportunity for our getaway. We had left our kids before, but never for more than a few days, and never overseas. As the trip approached, my anxiety grew. Although excited about the prospect of a wonderful vacation, I began to feel increasingly uncomfortable about flying without my kids. I kept thinking . . . what if the plane crashes and I never see my children again? I realized my emotions were getting the best of me, but I couldn't alleviate the anxiety that was gnawing at me. I wanted to make sure that if anything unfortunate were to happen, my boys would have a permanent reminder of how much I love them and how they make my heart sing.
And that’s when it hit me . . .
Why not write them notes? This way, they’d have permanent keepsakes of my heart speaking to theirs. The prospect of writing notes actually made me feel a bit better.
I created my company, Heart Writing, the following year. My intent was to build a website where folks could create keepsake notes for their family and friends. As the business continues to grow, I think a lot about my maternal grandmother, who passed away quite a number of years ago. In typical grandma fashion, which I am a bit embarrassed to admit, she acted as if I were the most important person in the world. Her unshakable love and acceptance helped create the person I am today. Sure I have photos and memories, and those are wonderful. But I wish I had her words, a note, or a letter. It would be such a comfort, especially during difficult times, to be able to see, in her own words, just how much she treasured me.
Posthumous notes hold potential benefits for both the writer and the receiver. The writer can experience peace of mind with an opportunity for free expression, a way to be remembered, and the assurance that loved ones always know how you feel. And hopefully (many years down the road) the “receivers” of these notes, the loved ones, will experience comfort and joy each and every time they read their notes.
Debbie Gruber is a late-in-life, baby boomer mom. Debbie lives on the north shore of Long Island (no, unfortunately not the Hamptons) with her husband, two teenage boys, and her “furry child” Lucky (a good-natured Havanese). Lucky is the only one of her children who doesn’t talk back and complain about stuff.
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