Wednesday, November 27, 2013

So Long. Farewell. Good-bye.

I was a person who hated good-byes. Still do. If there was a way to just avoid that whole part of someone leaving, I would. Somehow it seemed if I didn't actually bid someone farewell, it wasn't really like they were leaving. Maybe they would come back.
So eventually I figured it was either easier to not get close in the first place, or just forget the whole painful good-bye. It worked pretty well for me, up until I heard a college professor say, "If you learn nothing else here, learn to say a good good-bye." 
A good good-bye. That stuck with me.
I began to observe how people around me said good-bye. To my amazement, there were a lot of folks out there who had no idea how to do this. Or didn't bother. I found myself in leadership positions where I was occasionally responsible for good-bye parties. I was a therapist who had to provide closure when clients had reached the end. I was a teacher who promoted the Sunday School kids in August. Suddenly, my own kids had friends who moved away. People left all around us. It was up to me to make these a smooth transition or a non-transition.
I currently coordinate services in a housing development where people constantly move in and move out. Sometimes I bond with those kids. They might say good-bye but usually, they just disappear with their parents, and I don't see them leave. This hurts. Why? Because I want people to know they have made an impact. They have touched someone in the world, even for a short time. Because saying "good-bye" is an important piece of the grieving puzzle. Without it, wounds just don't always heal properly.
I've now given many farewell speeches. Last cards. Thank-you tributes. I've even made scrapbooks and picture frames. Gone to lunches. Given hugs. If I hadn't, it's likely that no one else would have.
Same for you. If you don't do it, who will? Learn to say a good good-bye. Tears are okay.

Have you said a good good-bye, or has someone else given you this gift?