5 Ways To Handle Goodbyes

Whoever we are and whatever life stage we are at, there will be times when we have to say goodbye to people we love or care about. I’m not talking about a brief cheerio when someone goes on holiday or moves to another job in a nearby location.

What I’m talking about are those times when the goodbye, even if not final and forever is for a substantial period of time. As humans we are adaptable and even if the pain is acute, you will learn to cope, eventually. It might take longer than expected but as with a lot of situations there a few things you can do to make the situation a little easier.

Accept The Emotion

First, remember that emotions are not good or bad they simply exist - the experience of losing someone or at least not seeing as much of them as you used to, can undoubtedly cause emotion.

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But that is fine, it may not feel nice to experience the pain of loss but don’t then beat yourself up about it - if you are upset even if you feel you are over reacting it doesn’t matter if you feel it then that emotion is real for you, so accept it. If you are tearful you may need to work out when and where you feel safe enough to express the emotion but don’t try to pretend it doesn’t exist, accept it and find times and ways to express it. A good cry can actually do you good.

Plan For The Occasion

If you are having to actually say goodbye to someone, perhaps a relative emigrating, a child going off to university or travelling then plan for the moment when the good bye will come.

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Make sure that if it is in a public place that you will be able to say what you want or hug them or whatever the appropriate good bye for you is, and allow time, it might seem a little clinical but if your goodbye is at the airport make sure you don’t end up having that final hug as your friend or loved one is rushing up to the departure gate. But at the same time you might not want to be waiting for ages with the thought of the good bye looming so a bit of careful planning can make the whole experience a little easier.

Talk If It Helps

People are individuals and sometimes they don’t want to talk about the person who has left, though that might sometimes be because every time they do they feel emotional - and actually talking about them could help express some of that emotion.

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Other people want to talk about them all of the time and if that is what helps you then make sure you have people who you can meet with to do just that - people sometimes say it feels like having them back for a moment when they talk about them especially with others who knew them.

Keep Your Thoughts Positive

Our thoughts are very powerful and it is easy to let ourselves get into a downward spiral concentrating on all the negative aspects. If it is in general a positive situation - for example, a child who has gone travelling, well yes you miss them, and you may be worrying about them but think of the adventures and fun they will be having.

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Concentrate on those aspects and the time will fly, at first you may have to convince yourself a bit but you know that it is true and focussing on the positive will make you feel better. If you have had to say goodbye because a close friend or loved one has died, the grief may be major and long lasting but there will still be times when it is good to try to focus on positive things, how great it was that you knew them, the impact they had on your life or even the fact that their suffering has ended. It will be different in every situation but finding a positive aspect to concentrate on will make it easier to cope.

Arrange A Few Distractions

Like it or not when we are busy we have less time to dwell on thoughts of sadness. It doesn’t stop you missing people but it can take your mind off it for a while. So plan some things to keep yourself busy - hopefully things you enjoy, it could be just the right time to immerse yourself in a new hobby, or catch up with the folk who are still near to you.

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Sadly goodbyes are a part of everyone’s life and while they may be upsetting it is okay to miss people. You can decide to help yourself manage the situation so that it is easier to cope than maybe it has been in the past.

BySheila Mulvenney

After initially training as a nurse then teacher, I worked in care and education settings and then with local authorities and independent organisations for many years. In 2013 I trained as a therapist and started my own business, Attuned Education, offering tuition, training, therapy, coaching and consultancy. My first book ‘Ready to Learn’ aims to help teachers address the emotional needs of troubled children and young people and is due to be published By Worth Publishers in the next few months. My partner and I have three grown up children and onegrandson, and we share a love of music, travel, food and fun.

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