Goodbye Without Grief

Goodbye dance by Vladimir Agafonkin (CC BY-NC)

Goodbye dance by Vladimir Agafonkin (CC BY-NC)

In the end, everyone leaves. ―Rachel Ward
Death abducts the dying, but grief steals from those left behind. ―Katherine Owen
I thought I wouldn’t live through it. But you do. You learn to love the place somebody leaves behind for you. ―Barbara Kingsolver
I told her that saying goodbye didn’t matter, not a bit. What mattered were all the days you were together before that, all the things you remembered.
―Patricia Reilly Giff
When I leave, I won’t tell you goodbye—but only because I’m taking you with me.―Jarod Kintz

 

Change is inevitable. Loss is not.

You’re a collection of history that grows every moment, the sum of your singular biology and experience. People come and go, but their impact on you remains. When it’s time to say goodbye to someone you love, consider this: You are not saying goodbye to a person. You’re saying goodbye to the illusion that things last.

A person is not a chair. You can’t pull up your favorite person, settle in, and expect them to accommodate you exactly the way they did the last time you sat down. The person you know and love today is not the same as when you met. Neither are you. Which means that every moment you share is unique―not just because the circumstances won’t come again, but because the people who shared them won’t come again.

Relationships are mostly a cache of interpretations, memories, expectations, and hopes that live in your mind. When the face of someone you love is gone, you’ve lost a copy of a treasure map, not the treasure itself. You know the terrain; you’ve been there before. Retrace your steps; leave nothing valuable behind.

Instead of looking at change as constant loss―depressing―why not marvel at the uniqueness of that treasure? When your relationship ends, no one else “takes” your boo. The person you shared your life with―for days or decades―no longer exists. You’re the only one who has ever known them and the only one who ever will.

It’s natural to grieve when you have to say goodbye before you’re ready. Goodbyes are painful reminders that life never stands still. But they’re also opportunities to cherish what endures. When someone you love moves on, the person you say goodbye to is not a possession you lose. They’re a series of experiences that cannot be taken from you. The face you love is always with you. Only it’s ride moves on.

 

 

4 Comments:

  1. The memory is a powerful thing. At its most intense it is real. With loved ones the reality of never seeing them again is very distressing. Only time allows the memories to be revisited and restored as the source of comfort needed to continue. The older you are the clearer and more predictable this phenomena becomes.

  2. I guess you can never be ready to lose someone you love. Your perspective of this (When someone you love moves on, the person you say goodbye to is not a possession you lose. They’re a series of experiences that cannot be taken from you. The face you love is always with you. Only it’s ride moves on) is a beautiful sentiment. The grieving comes when you know you will not have more time to add to those joint experiences.

What do you think?