“I’m happy we made it this far but I feel sad because this is the last game I’ll play with the seniors. I’ve played soccer with them ever since I started.” My daughter’s soccer team had just won second in the state championship. I had complimented her on the win after she came to sit with me. While she celebrated their win, she also grieved her loss. She experienced a normal sadness to leave this season of her life.
“My daughter is going overseas for a summer program and then off to college in the fall. The house feels so empty without her. I miss her so much. Things will never be the same,” my friend lamented.
I also feel sad to say goodbye to another woman I’ve known since she was sixteen. For years we sent Christmas cards and then eight years ago, in her mid-life, she moved to my city.
I’ve watched her blossom and grow and have enjoyed her friendship and wisdom over the course of those years. Now her husband got a job in another state. I’m happy for them but my heart grieves to have to say goodbye.
In our culture sometimes we want to think we’re independent but the truth is we depend on each other. We receive love, support, wisdom and care from the people in our lives.
When someone leaves, we grieve and sometimes we cry and it’s okay. If they didn’t mean anything to us, we wouldn’t feel sad. Grieving is a normal part of the transition.
5 Tips for a Healthy Goodbye
1. Let yourself have your feelings. Allow yourself to have sadness and tears. We have a tendency to say to people, “Don’t cry. It will be okay.” This is the worst thing you can say or have someone say to you. You need to cry. Crying is healthy for you. Tears release hormones which help you feel better. Crying is a normal part of loss especially if the people leaving meant a lot to you.
If you’re the person leaving, feeling sad about what you leave behind is normal. This is a healthy part of getting ready to move to the next chapter in your life. Again, let yourself have your feelings of sadness as you think of those you left behind and all which is familiar to you.
2. Take time to let people know what you appreciate about them. Be specific. You can say, “I appreciate the way you’ve encouraged me, listened to me, been there for me. I admire your courage, perseverance, your faith.” Let them know specifically the qualities you appreciated.
For example, I told my friend, “Your faith has stirred, strengthened and encouraged mine many times.” Another time I told her, “I appreciate the way you seek wisdom and share your insights with me.”
I told our worship pastor, “Your worship and teaching have given me a whole new level of understanding of who God is and how to know Him in a more intimate way. I will always treasure the wisdom and understanding you gave me.” I told his wife, “Your music has such a healing touch and has meant so much to me.”
3. Write them a note. The beauty of something written is that the person can read it again and be encouraged by it. I wrote a note to one of the young couples to let them know, “I feel richer in my life because of my friendship with both of you.” I mentioned some specific things they did and character qualities I admired as well as expressing my love for them.
4. Spend some time with them. I met my friend, who I’ve known since she was sixteen, for tea. We spent a couple of hours talking and enjoying each other.
A friend who lived 90 miles from me got ready to move out of the area. I drove over and stayed with her for a couple of days so we could enjoy some time together.
5. Speak a blessing over them. Think of a verse, a prayer or an inspirational saying you can speak over them. Words have the power to bless. After our church service, our pastor invited people to come and pray or to share a verse and to speak blessings to the couples who were leaving.
Take the time to follow these tips. They will help you process your emotions so you can let go of this season of your life and move into the next.
When you take the time to write or express your thoughts, you make a deposit in another person’s life. Your words will strengthen, encourage and empower them.
The more you give, the more you receive. You cannot give something positive to another person without it strengthening and encouraging you as well. So take the time to express your thoughts and feelings. You and they will both benefit and grow.
“The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.” Proverbs 11:25 (NIV)