"Letter to Fanny McCullough"

Explore Abraham Lincoln's profound insight on grief in his "Letter to Fanny McCullough". Learn how sorrow transforms over time.

"Letter to Fanny McCullough"
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Abraham Lincoln led the United States through Civil War and the emancipation of slaves. His letters and speeches exhibit his remarkable leadership, eloquence, and empathy. This next "Letter to Fanny McCullough" blends strength and compassion. From the "Executive Mansion" in Washington, December of 1862, Lincoln writes to "Dear Fanny," a child grieving her father who's been recently killed in battle.
In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to ever expect it.
I am anxious to afford some alleviation of your present distress. Perfect relief is not possible, except with time
You can not now realize that you will ever feel better. Is not this so? And yet it is a mistake. You are sure to be happy again. To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now.
I have had experience enough to know what I say; and you need only to believe it, to feel better at once. The memory of your dear Father, instead of an agony, will yet be a sad sweet feeling in your heart, of a purer and holier sort than you have known before.
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This letter is a study in how to be strong yet compassionate. Grief is an inevitable affliction and "sorrow comes to all." The older expect it but for the young, "it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares." Lincoln's counsel to Fanny is specific and honest. Only time will relieve, but faith in this inevitability is alleviates at present. You must trust that some day, the agony of remembrance will yet become a "sad sweet feeling in your heart."

Story From

Abraham Lincoln Collection