The Good in Goodbye

By Kate Wallin

I have become quite accustomed to the art of saying goodbye. End of a semester. End of a summer. A semester abroad. Graduation. This is goodbye season. As college kids, we’re in a near-constant state of hauling our Rubbermaid containers back and forth – school to home, home to school. We’re continuously in temporal, transitional seasons. College itself is a transient place despite the perpetual mind grind and the eternal feeling of “dead” week. So how do we make the best of the end of the season? Does good in a goodbye even exist? 

Give time.

Everyone has their own way of closing off an experience. My family, we’re a wild bunch of extended goodbye-r’s. I’ll say bye to you four times before you actually leave or hang up the phone. I like closure.

Others find that exhausting and prefer to just make their exit quickly and silently.  No mater one’s style – often a reflection of family background or personality type – give yourself the time at the end of an experience to remember, reflect and share.

Remember who you were and what you wanted at the beginning. Reflect on how you’ve grown and been shaped by the people/experiences around you. Share a story, a laugh, even some tears with someone else. There’s power in doing this together.

Give thanks.

In the movie Happythankyoumoreplease (a must-watch for any fan of writer-director-star Joshua Radnor of How I Met Your Mother fame), one of the main characters, Annie, quotes a Chinese cab driver – fluent in fortune cookie – who entrusts her with the mantra, “With gratitude, the universe is eternally abundant.”

Gratitude is essential to good conclusions, to goodbye. The act of paying attention to a goodbye increases heart-space. So many go through life without risking to really care for others and, thus, avoid the hurt of goodbye. But those who risk to love, while also risking goodbye, multiple the blessings of love. It’s the vulnerable heart that gets to feel.

Give space.

A goodbye means there was something really good. And not only is there good that’s been had but there is good that is to be had as well. A goodbye is a reminder to appreciate those we’re leaving as well as a time to savor those who are constant presences. And every goodbye usually means a hello. Give yourself space to experience both. A hello to a new friend, a new place, a new community. Goodbyes mean growth. In the hard season of goodbye, the ground of one’s heart is tended and enriched to better receive the coming seeds of these new friendships and experiences. More love is prepared for you.


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