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Unsent letters are a great place to vent pent-up anger and frustration – simply because we write them as if we will never send them and with brutal honesty about what we feel and what we think. People suffering from brain-injury and their carers are no different from the rest of us in this. And, recently, at a journal-writing session at Wirral Headway, having written the letters, we then brainstormed the next steps. Here are some of the ideas we came up with:

  1. Send the letter to the person addressed anyway – options included a range of people from the kind/unkind to healthcare professionals (understanding/unsympathetic) and so on . . . 
  2. With due regard for Health & Safety, burn the letter and throw the ashes on the sea or use them round the roses
  3. Commit the letter to the unknown – such as the God in our lives – by putting it in a bottle and throwing it off a ship or attaching it to a balloon
  4. Or make it part of our future so that we can see what progress we have made. We can do this by putting the letter in a time capsule to be opened this time next year or we can leave it in a stamped, self-addressed envelope with a friend who will post it when we least expect it.

 

If you can think of any other ways to handle the unsent letter, we’d be grateful if you’d let us know.

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King Peter and Millie (from Armenia)

Re-told by Lizzie Gates

Once upon a time . . .

King Peter of Armenia had a beautiful daughter, Millie. When she was born, he wanted to care and guard her so she would know nothing of the world and never love anyone but himself.  For her sole use – with only female servants and a woman teacher – he had a lovely palace built on a lonely island in the middle of a dark forbidding lake.  This palace had no windows looking outwards and only the king had a key to the outer door.  He visited her once a week, for three hours, on Sundays.

 

But Millie grew up.  And, when she was 18, she began to think for herself.  She knew she had learned about life but only from books. And she knew she was a woman.  But, she wondered, what did that make her father? Fear had kept her servants silent. But, pitying her, her woman teacher brought her a book. And Millie realised she was in prison.

 

So, copying the images in the book, she made a young man out of flour, eggs and butter and milk. And, weeping, she prayed to God for a soul to fill the beautiful young man with Life. The image was given a soul and Millie called him Michael. The woman teacher brought him clothes. Apart from Millie – only she knew of his existence. And the two young people fell in love.

 

Then, one Sunday, they slept over long in the morning, and King Peter arrived.  Millie’s father came upon his daughter with a young man sleeping by her side and was enraged.He had been to so much trouble and expense to prevent precisely this.  In a rage, he ordered their executions.

 

As Millie stood on the block, about to die, she said:  “I made the young man standing beside me – he has no family and no ties. I made him by myself. And it was my wish – to have loved and been loved. If you kill me, father, I have no regrets.”

 

King Peter on the other hand would lose everything he valued. Furthermore he could find no evidence that the young man was human. Relieved, he relented because he truly loved his daughter. In reparation, he gave the young couple a new home and his blessing.  And they all lived happily ever after.

 Writing Interventions

  1. Which character do you favour/empathise with? Why? Write the story from this person’s point of view?
  2. Which character do you like least? Why? Write the story from this person’s point of view.
  3. Do you like the ending? If not, why? Write your own ending.

 

 

Group Discussion (In pairs and then full group)

  1. Whose visions are represented here?
  2. Where is the conflict?
  3. Who changes their vision? Why?
  4. Whose vision is most powerful? Why? Could this be changed?
  5. What are the problems in this story which reflect/resonate with issues your clients face?
  6. What solutions could you offer in your professional practice?

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