The Stanford Medicine Letter Project

Why do a life review? Learn from the wisdom of the crowd!

Join many others who wrote to their loved ones using our simple “Dear Friends and Family” template. Your loved ones will cherish your letter and you will have the mental peace knowing that you have completed an important life task.

The goal of our Friends and Family Letter template is to help all Americans complete the seven vital tasks of life review while they still can. We designed this project based on years of clinical experience caring for thousands seriously ill patients and families.

The template was pilot-tested and refined after extensive discussions with patients from diverse cultures and traditions to identify the seven tasks of life review.

Complete the Seven Vital Tasks of Life Review!

In caring for countless seriously ill patients, we have learned that it is extremely important that every adult completes the seven tasks of life review. On completing the process of doing a life review, most people are able to achieve a measure of peace that comes from deep reflection about key life experiences, and the important relationships they have cultivated. Sadly, almost everyone forgets to do this or postpones it until it is too late. Thus, they never have an opportunity to express the deep love, gratitude, and commitment they feel towards their friends and family.

The “Dear Friends and Family” template will help you complete the following tasks of life review in minutes:

Task 1: Acknowledge the important people in your life: It is very important to start the process of life review by identifying key people in your life. Take the time to express your pride in their achievements.

Task 2: Remember treasured moments from your life: The second life review task is to recall the most special, meaningful instances in your life, including those involving your loved ones. These moments or events can range from important life milestones or simple family moments that you treasure.

Task 3: Apologize to those you love if you hurt them: In our experience, many patients worry about specific past instances when they have hurt the people they love. In doing a life review, it is important to take a moment to ask forgiveness from those you have hurt . Also, take this time to forgive yourself for any mistakes you feel you have made in the past.

Task 4: Forgive those who love you if they have hurt you: Now is the time to give solace to those who may have hurt you. Let them know that you acknowledge what they have done, but that you ultimately have forgiven them. This will give you and them a sense of release and peace. It will also give you peace when you successfully let go of old resentments.

Task 5: Express your gratitude for all the love and care you have received: Thank your loved ones for their concern through the trying times in your life and for everything else that they have done for you. You might mention specific instances that you hold close to your heart.

Task 6: Tell your friends and family how much you love them: Sometimes it is hard to express your love for someone in speech, so take advantage of this opportunity to write to those you love and express how much you care about them.

Task 7: Take a moment to say “goodbye”: The final life review task is to bid adieu to your loved ones. If you feel comfortable, take this time to ensure that you and your loved ones have a proper parting without any regret or guilt. In working with diverse Americans, some have expressed reluctance to complete the task of saying “goodbye” due to cultural taboos. If you are uncomfortable completing the “goodbye” task, it is perfectly fine to defer this for later.