Six Steps of Saying Goodbye - Thoughts on Lent & Life

Lent has begun. For those who practice Lent, it is a time of saying goodbye to a thing or things dear to our hearts, stuff that we treasure and hopefully, close enough to us that it hurts (at least a little). Giving up TV, except your favorite shows, doesn’t quite get the point (heard this one from a friend). Giving up desserts except for chocolate? Yeah, whatever.

This week I found a perspective more in tune than anything I’ve heard yet. You see, right now numerous people are making the choice to go out of business. Okay, we can argue semantics about the economy but face it; people, neighbors and friends across the country and around the world are giving up their business this very week.

They are saying goodbye to a hope, to a dream, even to a promise they had felt was worth going after.

We don’t say goodbye very well.

We like to talk about words like “Aloha” which mean both hello and goodbye. It makes us feel good (or at least a little better). The fact is, there is a time to say goodbye, to realize something is gone from our lives – in many cases, something has died to us.

A few weeks ago, I watched our daughter grieving for the first time over a dying pet – her first one. We have a 50 gallon fish tank and we’ve lost plenty of fish over the years but when I first got the tank 6 years ago, we had 4 gouramis. After two moves and multiply changes in water quality, three had died. The last was “grandpa gourami.”

He began having seizures and I’ll admit, it was hard to watch those few moments mainly because of how my daughter was taking it. I finally had to move “grandpa” to a sick tank and within a few hours, he had died.

She created a special shroud by drawing a water scene on a paper towel and my son and I dug a whole near our rose bush. Jillian laid “grandpa gourami” to rest while Logan said a short prayer.

Saying goodbye when death is involved is a given. I have found it in preparing for moves and life changes. I found facing cancer to follow the same process. Anyone who has lost a member of their body to any disease (particularly those on the outside) this is a time of grief.

We don't always get to prepare for saying goodbye but many times we do. Here is my list of Six Steps of Saying Goodbye.

1. Face the Facts. When preparing for a goodbye, try to discover all you can about what maybe in store in the change.

2. Walk the Path. Whether on your own or with friends and family, take each step, knowing there will be a goodbye.

3. Prepare for Goodbye.
Admit the goodbye is coming. Don’t try to hide from it or bury it under other things. Of course it isn’t easy. Start imagining life on the other side.

4.Say the Goodbye.

5. Grieve your Way. Whatever fits for you – grieve. Get it out or the emotions can become toxic. Find your outlets through tears, writing, playing, painting, whatever it is that helps you grieve.

6. Live the Life. Don’t stop living and continue to grieve along the way.

Click here for more on the Grief Cycle.

Our goodbyes can and will vary throughout our lives both in duration and intensity. This is why, I think, I have found a peace and hope in the 40 days of Lent. It has been the Church’s way of preparing us for ultimate goodbye – not death of our bodies – but death of our self.

You certainly heard about him, and as his followers you were taught the truth that is in Jesus. So get rid of your old self, which made you live as you used to---the old self that was being destroyed by its deceitful desires. Your hearts and minds must be made completely new, and you must put on the new self, which is created in God's likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy. (Ephesians 4:21-24 GNB)

May I Ask: What have you said goodbye to in recent days?
May I Suggest: If you haven’t already, go ahead and chose something to say “goodbye” to for Lent. But also, chose something to say “hello” to as well – something that will be part of your life in following Jesus.


Nancy Johnson said...

Really great thoughts, and perfect for Lent. This is a season of goodbyes, to at least some parts of ourselves that we leave behind on our journey. Thanks for your writing.

Ken L. Hagler said...

Thanks Nancy, I appreciate your comments! I got the e-mail right after this that one of my favorite restaurants was closing. Glad I had a chance to say goodbye this week. :(

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