Making Goodbyes Easier
It’s something we all have to do at some point, yet we’re rarely prepared for the emotional reactions it triggers. Goodbyes are in the air. Maybe you’re moving, ending a relationship—or even amarriage, or struggling with the death of a loved one. Maybe you’re changing jobs and leaving years of connections behind. Maybe your children are leaving for camp, with fresh tears on all sides. Maybe the kids are coming home after equally tearful goodbyes with new and old friends. Saying goodbye to someone is not easy. There’s no perfect way to say it.
Time passes. Life is finite. That said, there are some strategies you can implore in order to lessen the blow of an unwanted parting—or at least grow as a result of it. Here’s how to ultimately reduce the pain of a goodbye over time and make goodbyes easier.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
This is not a time to keep a stiff upper lip. While the goodbye may be unavoidable (i.e., if you’re being left, there’s no point in trying to control the situation and force someone to stay), you needn’t behave as if you’re unaffected to impress anyone. In fact, doing so will only leave you with regrets. You’ll later find yourself wishing you’d been authentic—whether because your think it could have changed things, or simply because you’ve learned the importance of your words and actions aligning with your honest experience. Instead of numbing out, let yourself feel whatever it is you’re feeling. That’s the only way it can pass and it can make goodbyes easier.
Ritual is a part of life for a reason. We hold weddings, funerals and other ceremonies in order to help us share in our joys and cope with our losses. They make goodbyes easier. The end of an era (via a breakup, move, or even death), is something to honor as well. Do something to celebrate the time in your life that is passing. Look at old photos, and if it’s not acrimonious, have a last dinner party. Don’t be afraid to remember what was meaningful—even if it brings about more pain in the moment. While wallowing is never healthy, it’s important to process your experiences and in doing so, you’ll find the loss easier to live with as time passes. Likewise, though it doesn’t always make it easier in the moment, if you accept that you are not alone in this experience, you’ll find you feel less lonely while you’re living it.
Modern technology makes it easy to stay in touch across time zones and hopefully, your parting of ways is not forever. It’s also a way to make goodbyes easier. However, even if it is a permanent situation, there is no point clinging to the past—or the pain of saying goodbye. Part of life is learning to let go. It makes no difference whether it means letting go of control, pride, expectations or another human being. Acceptance is the only way through things. The good news in that is that acceptance opens you up to the next chapter. By letting go of what’s gone, you open the door to new people, places and experiences. The only certainty in this life is change, and by embracing it, you go a long way toward making it positive.