My youngest granddaughter gets very upset whenever we leave her house without her. She makes a real fuss and it is a bit heartrending sometimes. Her mum says she knows just how to get to me!
Seriously I am pretty rubbish at goodbyes. I tend to hang on to people and things probably alot longer than I should. I find it difficult to get rid of things people have bought as gifts over the years, hard to recycle birthday cards, all sorts of things I hang on to well beyond when many people would have had a good chucking out session. I don’t clear out the filing cabinet as often as I should, although occasionally this has worked in my favour when someone else needs some information I still have!
Saying goodbye to people is even harder and much more painful. I remember well when my daughters left home at different times. It was hard to let go in my heart although we all needed to move on with our lives. They’ve been back and forwards since and that wasn’t so bad, but the first time was the hardest. Adjusting to being a mum at a distance meant not always knowing where they were and wondering if they were safe.
Saying goodbye at the end of a relationship can be especially difficult, sorting out loose ends, trying to divide belongings and bank accounts, dividing children’s loyalties even, all extremely emotionally draining.
Letting go when someone we love has died is the hardest of all. Friends close to me have been bereaved recently and I have tried to be there for them through the sadness and aching loss. Grief can be so overwhelming and yet even in the darkness of the sorrow for me there has been comfort, a sense of being supported, held in the powerful arms of God.
I was privileged to spend several years working with bereaved children and their families. I learned so much about love and loss and letting go and how important it is to make a painful experience a positive one. We need the rites of passage that help us to say goodbye, we need kind, generous spirited people who won’t take over but who don’t walk away, who are ready with a tissue or a cuppa, or just a hug. Jesus knew what it felt like to lose someone He loved when His friend Lazarus died, He wept with grief, shared the same sense of loss that we feel.
You may not be in this place right now so I apologise if this post seems a little maudlin but sometimes we just need to acknowledge that others are going through tough stuff like the death of a loved one or other major life losses. They are saying goodbye.
The promise is that the deserts of grief will give way to spring and the flowers will bloom again on what was once a barren wasteland. Jesus talked about a kernel of wheat falling to the ground and dying, but from that comes a new shoot, new life from death. That is the hope we can hang on to.
“Do not count what you have lost. Just see what you have now, because the past never comes back. But sometimes, futures can give you back your lost things :)” (Acknowledgments to Vicky Trelease’s recent post on Facebook)
With loving thoughts for all those who have been bereaved