Grief Can Be a Common Topic for Famous Letters

in Writing

As much as grief and loss is a part of our world, we aren’t always the best at coping with it. Sure, some turn to art, and try to get therapeutic benefits and help with our pain by listening to emotional songs, reading inspiring words, or looking at artwork. Others may look inside themselves and create their own art, like bleak poems or bleak paintings.

Others take an opposite tack and talk to their friends and loved ones about their grief and the feelings they’re experiencing. This line of discussion can sometimes lead to quite interesting and stimulating conversations, since we all have experienced grief in different ways.

Several famous letters share the back-and-forth between writers discussing their views on life, loss, and how and when to move on. Some are quite interesting based on not only their insights, but on why they have come to these conclusions.

In the days before we were able to chat online or on the phone, famous letters about grief were a perfect way to take all the space we need to write our views on why we hurt.

Some examples of interesting grief-focused correspondence include:

Albert Einstein

Perhaps one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century often surprised people by not only focusing his mental abilities on why the world moves, but our emotions as humans. Some of his letters to colleagues touch on intangibles such as love, violence, and what defines human nature. One of Einstein’s more interesting letters was to Belgium’s Queen Elisabeth, who lost her husband and daughter-in-law in the early 1930s. He offered consolation, discussed the universe and time and gave her a lot to think about in her period of grieving. He also joked about the privilege that can come with being older: we may hurt more but we’re more able to deal with it than younger people.

Abraham Lincoln

The U.S. president was known for his eloquence in speaking. But he also wrote many famous letters to people, sharing great wisdom and being comforting at difficult times. He was president during the American Civil War and did his part to make sure the sacrifices of Union soldiers were recognized, including writing letters to wives and mothers. One letter in particular was sent to Fanny McCullough, the daughter of one of his friends who was killed in combat. The letter was quite poignant, encouraging her to think about his service to not only the country but the whole world. He also assured her that the harsh pain of his loss will diminish over time and be replaced with a sad, sweet feeling.

Johannes Brahms

Through famous letters, we’ve been able to learn more about the personal life of this composer and his close relationship with others. One of his friends and musical mentors was Robert Schumann, who was married to a pianist named Clara Schumann. Robert died in a sanitarium, leaving her with seven children and a need to earn money for the family. Johannes did his best to help, which included financial support as well as emotional support. He wrote her a series of letters encouraging her to keep going and think long-term instead of being paralyzed by the initial pain. These messages continued for more than a year, each one reminding her of the importance of getting out and living life to the fullest.

Image Credits: Suzy Hazelwood

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