Whether it’s saying good-bye to a friend who is moving, a child going off to school, or parents who were visiting for the holidays, regardless of the scenario, saying farewell is hard. It can elicit feelings of loss, sadness, and melancholy that can stop you in your tracks, at least temporarily. You may experience old feelings of abandonment or separation anxiety. Know that all of these emotions, although uncomfortable, are perfectly normal. Here are a few suggestions that may help.
Let yourself be in the moment with your feelings, acknowledge them knowing you are not alone in coping with good-byes, everyone experiences them. Give yourself a day or two to notice your emotions and give yourself room to breathe. When we stuff feelings they tend to lasts longer and can fester causing you to feel prolonged grief or sadness. You may choose to lighten your work load for the first day or two giving yourself permission to take it easy. Listen to music that soothes you, talk to friends that are comforting and kind and that can relate to those good-bye blues. Be honest with yourself and others about how you’re feeling rather than putting on a mask and parading around as if you’re absolutely fine.
Plan how you will stay in touch with the person, you can do this ahead of time. Eventually you’ll look forward to those letters, Skype sessions or phone calls, as they will enrich your sense of connection. Send cards out on a regular basis, the old fashion snail mail way. Recall the delight you get when receiving something happy in the mail, such as a thinking of you card and start a tradition with the people you said good-bye to.
Take a walk or do a home yoga practice, allowing your body to move can help you process feelings. Getting outside in nature can lift your spirits and renew your sense of well-being. Breathe and remember all of the joy and happiness you experienced with the person or situation you are missing. Smile and recognize the value of healthy happy relationships in your life and the gift of change. We could attempt to dodge loss if we never loved or took risks, but what sort of life is that?
Try journaling your feelings. Sit down and write in a notebook or on the computer (whichever feels right for you) and pour your emotions onto the page, uncensored. Getting feelings out, literally, can help put them into perspective. Write down all of your feelings, the happy, the sad, the confused, the silly and don’t stop until you have them all out. If you are saying good-bye to a child going off to college or moving away, compile a list of all of the wonderful things you want to remember. Listing can help you sort through feelings as writing helps you declutter your mind, it lightens the load.
Draft a poem or write a song or draw a painting about your feelings. Some of our greatest creativity can stem from loss. You don’t have to be professionally in the arts to create, simply allow your emotions to evoke a piece of art. It can be a profound process that may open up the artist within.
Give yourself time to readjust. All of us get into patterns and routines or we take for granted that a particular person (whether at work or home) will always be there, till they’re not. We are disrupted and forced to deal with a different experience. Set small achievable goals like changing your sheets or cleaning a bathroom—avoid making major decisions or tackling big project until your feelings of sadness have subsided.
Although you can’t avoid the pain of saying good-bye, you can be proactive in how you cope. Throughout your life there will be plenty of hellos and good-byes, recognize this is a reflection of the rich tapestry of loving caring relationships that fill your life and those around you.