Complete the seven tasks of life review in minutes using our
simple template

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.

Stanford Life Review Project was featured in The New York Times:

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.

Watch Videos of "Dear Friends and Family" Letters

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Samples of Life Review Letters Generously Shared by Real People

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why should I write the “Dear Friends and Family” letter?
  • When you do some reflection and take stock of your life and complete this life review exercise, you will gain new insights about what matters most to you. You may be able to make some significant changes in your future life path based on what you discover about yourself. Most importantly, your family will cherish your letter as it will be a testimony of your love for them.
  • Who should write the "Healthy Letter"?
  • All adults should take time to complete the seven tasks of life review while they are able to. Every adult in good health should write the "healthy letter” when able. Once you write the letter, please store it in a personal items box or give to a trusted friend or your lawyer to give to your loved ones at the right time in the future .
  • Who should write the "Illness Letter"?
  • Any one who has some chronic or serious illness can complete a life review letter using the illness  template as soon as possible. This includes anyone with diseases like cancer, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) , etc.
  • When should I give my "Dear Family and Friends" Letter to my loved ones?
  • If you write the Healthy Letter, please store it in a personal items box or give to a trusted friend or your lawyer to give to your loved ones in event of some calamity befalls you. If you write the Illness Letter, you can choose to give to your loved ones immediately. You can also keep it in a safe place and give to them when you are ready. Some patients prefer to make the Letter available to their Family and Friends in event of their death.
  • How can I write my letter?
  • You can use our online template to complete the letter. Or you can download the Stanford Letter Project App on the iTunes Appstore or Google Playstore and use it to complete the letter and email it to yourself and your friends and family. You can also print the letter template.
  • Can I edit the text in the template?
  • Our template is meant to prompt you to complete all the seven life review tasks. Once you fill out the template, the tool will push back a completed letter to you. You can and should edit this letter (you can use the copy-paste function in your computer) until you feel comfortable with its contents. Once you are done, you can print and sign or you can sign electronically and store. As it is a personal latter, we recommend printing and signing and storing in a safe place.
  • Do I have to complete all seven tasks?
  • There are seven life review tasks and ideally you may want to complete them all. However, if you are uncomfortable with a specific task, it is acceptable to omit it. In some cultures, people are superstitous about completing the “goodbye” task. In such cases, it may be best to omit that particular task.
  • Will my letter be made public if I complete the online or in app template?
  • Your letter is your property. We do not have access to what you write.
  • I've already told my friends and family that I love them.  Do I still need to write the letter?
  • In our experience, families often have questions about whether they have done right by their loved one. Many feel unappreciated. We recommend that all adults complete the seven tasks of life review and in doing so document how much they love and care for the people in their life.  While there is every reason in the world to procrastinate writing the life-review letter, there is only one reason to write it—your family will cherish it. Take a few minutes to complete the seven tasks of life review. It is free, easy and extremely important!
  • Can I tell my friends and family to write their letter?
  • Yes, please do. Once you complete your letter, please do become a role model and help others in your friends and family circle complete their letter. Feel free to contact us for questions.