365 Letters of Hope and Love

Ellen from Ohio created a box full of 365 letters for Jennifer and her family, to help provide comfort and support as they struggled with the loss of their husband and father who passed from COVID-19. 

Ellen lost both her nonprofit position and part time service industry position after being furloughed due to the economic effects brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic . As part of our Unemployment Transition Program, Ellen chose to complete her capstone project  by creating a unique and thoughtful project to show her support for Jennifer and her family, who because I said I would identified through our bereavement support program. Jennifer lost her husband, Chad, to COVID-19, and both her sons and her were struggling from the unexpected loss. Ellen created 365 notes of inspiration and support for the family to read each day.  The notes were written in the format of an “Open when… you are___” format so the family could choose a message that would be most meaningful to how they were feeling in that moment. 

Lessons Learned

Q. How do you feel this project affected the family or individual you helped? 

For my Capstone Project, I chose to write messages of love and hope in the format of an “Open when… you are___” format. My hope is that my Capstone Project will serve as a reminder of daily hope and a sentiment of love for Jennifer and her sons. The letters all say “open when… you are_____” with a note or quote that is tailored for having a good day, a bad day, feeling happy, feeling sad etc. The box that they are in is full of messages and says “Open when… Messages of hope and love for you and your family. In loving memory of Chad.” The messages were written by my mom, sister and I.


Q. How did the project help you?

This project was very impactful on me because as I read through these positive and uplifting quotes and sayings, it was grounding and uplifting. For myself, I feel like I have experienced loss and grief within the past year with my job and lifestyle. However, writing letters for a family who has lost a loved one put into perspective just how much I have to be grateful for during this difficult time. 

Q. What advice would you give to other people who are comforting a bereaved family/individual? 

My advice for people who are comforting a bereaved family or individual is to remember that everyone experiences and navigates loss in different ways. There is no set approach or timeline for how and when someone should be healing from their grief. I think it is important to remember that these families and individuals will always be dealing with the loss of a loved one even after the initial healing process has taken place. I feel fortunate that it is so hard to imagine how losing someone very close to me to COVID-19 would feel. I know that I would hold onto anger that it wasn’t supposed to be this way, especially for someone that was younger, like the family that I did this project for. I hope that project just brings some positivity to their days.

Ellen graduated from our January 2021 Cohort and has since found gainful employment.

If you or someone you know is unemployed due to Covid-19, see if our Unemployment Transition Program is right for you. Additionally, if you have lost a loved one to COVID-19 and would like to be a recipient of one of our participant’s capstone project, please look at our Bereavement Support Page to sign up.