Prepare for It. This one is easy. All you have to do is smile and say "Thank you so much for your support. I've enjoyed my time here and I've learned a lot from you. Let me know what I can do to make the transition easier." Are you always going to get reaction number five? Probably not. But if you look for the signs, you can likely anticipate your boss' response, go into the conversation prepared, and come out stronger on the other side. Then, you can breathe a sign of relief and start looking forward to starting your new position.
And sure, this could be an email (all of the same principles would apply), but a letter makes things official in every sense. It also gives you a prop to take along to the face_to_face meeting with your boss, when you let him or her know that you're leaving.