Letter writing is often a way to connect two people–sender and recipient–that can lead to reciprocation, a conversation, a revealing of selves.
But letters can also serve a purpose even if you have no intention of sending them. You can say the things you want or need to say to someone and let those feelings go without having any ramifications. I find these types of letters helpful for letting out unproductive anger…emotions that, while real, would only cause suffering if shared. It works for sadness and disappointment and lots of other feelings, too!
I saw this wonderful article today about a teacher who used these letters-you-probably-won’t-send as a language arts assignment for her students who faced a lot of tough challenges and needed a way to address them proactively from their positions as children. The story is powerful and the central student she discusses, Jenny, takes this new found skill of letter writing as a way of connecting with her mentally disturbed father. She used writing these letters as a coping tool for years. What a wonderful lesson to share with children!