5 Reasons to Pick Up a Pen

Nothing causes personal reflection quite like a funeral. Thoughts of a loved-one’s life, relationships, regrets, and treasured memories flood your mind. Your heart aches. The trivial aspects of this life melt away, replaced by things of eternal importance.

At the conclusion of a weekend spent celebrating my grandmother’s life, I carry empty tear glands and a full heart. And I’ve learned that good things always come out of difficult situations.

As I make the trip home, I also go with a renewed understanding about the importance of documenting thoughts and events. So many special things about the weekend were a result of someone taking the time to pick up a pen.

Here are 5 reasons you need to write more often:

  1. To document the past. The night after the funeral, my mom and I spent a lot of time pouring over our family tree. We found some pretty amazing things in an old document written half a century ago. What a treat to learn more about my great great grandmother, Nancy Ann Blackwell. Born in 1854, she married at age 17 and had her first baby at 18. Her 12th child, my grandmother’s dad, was born when Nancy Ann was 41 years old. She had 13 children altogether. And lived to be 99! My mom remembers going to visit her as a child. Nancy Ann dipped snuff until the day she died. If I could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, it would be her. What a woman! Another favorite discovery was the following comment a family friend wrote about the men in the family: “I have never heard of any Blackwell being accused or hanged for a horsethief. But if there ever was one I know that the horse stolen was not an old nag, but was one of the best pure blood because the Blackwell men all knew and loved a good horse then they saw one.” – Sadie Amanda Fairley Jordan
  2. To express what you otherwise can’t. Because of the human condition, we’re sometimes limited by what we can express to people in person. Time, pain, and fear prevent us from saying what needs to be said. Before her death, my grandmother wrote a short handwritten note to my mom and tucked it away in a file of important papers. In it she expressed some very special sentiments, including that she had always been proud of my mom and how much she loved her. What a treasure, that note.
  3. To make things right. Like most people, my grandmother suffered broken relationships in her life. Circumstances can’t always be made right on earth. They will be made right in eternity. But in the same note she wrote to my mom, my grandmother attempted with, “Tell him I love him.”
  4. To make your presence felt. I had the honor of giving my grandmother’s eulogy at the funeral. The night before, I poured through my grandmother’s bible as I was thinking about what I wanted to say. What a comfort to see the handwritten thoughts she had recorded on sticky notes. One in particular stood out to me, and I used it as the basis for my talk. Holding that note in her own penmanship made me feel like she was standing by my side at the podium. There really is something special about handwritten notes.
  5. To provide encouragement and comfort for friends and family. Documenting details about emotions, people, and events is a special gift. It gives encouragement to people when you’re still alive and kicking, and comfort when you’re gone.

So what are you waiting for? Make a timeless impact. Pick up a pen.



  1. Martin Luther said, “If you want to change the world, pick up a pen.” Your Grandma changed it for you, and your mom and others we don’t know about yet. You do it as well for all of us who read your thoughts in this space. Thank you for making the world a better place. I have no doubt Sugargranny is proud; I know I am grateful. Write on, Tracy.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story Tracy. It came at a perfect time for me!

  3. annepeterson says:

    Very heartfelt Tracy. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Beautiful. Especially loved the “document the past” point. At moments like you describe, the power of those written words to bring a tear, or a smile, is too often overlooked.

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