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Goodbye To Goodbye


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Goodbye to Goodbye

by Darcie Sims

"I didn't get to say goodbye." As a therapist, I have listened to thousands of bereaved people lament about the last words they spoke to their loved ones. So many of them have wept in grief over not saying goodbye. So much grief has been spent on not saying a farewell; so much additional hurt has been felt because someone did not get to say goodbye.

Sermons have been preached, books and poetry written about saying goodbye. Pictures have been painted, tears caught in bronze and sculpted arms left empty in the lament of goodbye. Almost no one believes there might be a reason to say goodbye, now—today! Most days are simple, ordinary ones and there seems no special reason to say goodbye. Hardly anyone knows it will be the last day or the last time.

Why do we spend so much time and grief over not saying goodbye? Why do we wash away the words we did get to say over a lifetime of loving someone with the single lament, "I didn't get to say goodbye"? Why are those words so important that the lack of them creates a lifetime of additional hurt and pain?

Ceremonies are created and designed for the bereaved to say goodbye. We stand in line for hours to express our sympathies to the bereaved and say "goodbye" to the deceased. Even if we have not seen the deceased in years, it seems especially important to come at the time of death to say goodbye. Funeral directors, mental health professionals and most of the world seem to believe that it is necessary to say goodbye in order to begin the healing process.

Goodbye? Why would I want to say goodbye? I wasn't through saying hello! Thirty-four years ago, I did get to say goodbye. I knew the end of our son's life was approaching, and I got the chance to give one last hug and say one last goodbye. I got the chance to say goodbye and I didn't take it. In the last moments of my son's life, and years later, of my parents' lives, I did not say goodbye.

With the very last breath of my son's life, I simply said, "I love you." I was able to be with my mom in her final hours, and I did not say goodbye. I said, "I love you." And although I was not with my dad when he died, the last words I shared with him as I left his home on what was to be his last night, I kissed him and said, "I love you." If you did not get to say goodbye, let go of the hurt you are experiencing. You would not have said it, even if you had had the chance! You would have said, "I love you."

Goodbye is simply too final, too harsh, too forever. Surely your loved one knew you loved him. Surely your loved one knew you cared. And even if you don't believe they knew, you can do something about that right now. Go outside, find your special star, and with all your might, whisper, speak or yell out loud, "I LOVE YOU!" Trust me, the universe is listening, and your words of love will travel far to reach the heart of those no longer within hug's reach. I guess you could yell goodbye, too, if you really want to . . . but why? Why let the grief of not saying goodbye rob you of the memories of what you did get to say and how you lived your lives together? Why let not saying goodbye steal away the joy of knowing your loved one was in your life and still is a thread in your fabric to be woven forever around your heart?

Goodbye? I'd rather live my life so that my last words were "I love you." We never know when an ordinary day will turn into a day that gets marked down in the family history as a not-so-ordinary day. But all of us can live our lives so we can leave with few regrets. Do not let the events of the past few years rob you of your hope, your passion, your joy in living. Let it become a lesson for all of us to live our lives as if there were only moments left, because that is all there really are anyway. Moments, just moments, one after another, each special and sacred in its own way, each waiting to be etched forever on our memories or lost in the sea of millions of other ordinary moments.

Long ago, I learned that any moment can be the last one, so I no longer waste too many of my moments. Oh yes, there are days when I simply plod through the moments, not even aware of their passing. It often takes a cataclysmic event to shake me out of my reverie and reawaken me to the specialness of each moment.

We each need to take advantage of the moments we have and spend them wisely. Spend them saying "I love you," instead of wishing you had said goodbye. Make a commitment to never let another moment pass without being aware of its passing.

Goodbye has always been a part of my life, because I grew up military, married military and gave birth to military. My address changes more often than the weather. But I gave up saying goodbye long ago when I realized that "I love you" lasts far longer and feels so much better. Goodbye? I'm not through saying, "Hello," and "I love you!"

©2010 by Darcie Sims. Reprinted with permission from Grief Digest, Centering Corporation, Omaha, Nebraska, 402-553-1200

About the Author – Darcie D. Sims, PhD, CHT, CT, GMS, is a bereaved parent and child, a grief management specialist, a nationally certified thanatologist and pastoral bereavement specialist, and a licensed psychotherapist. She is an internationally recognized speaker, a former contributing writer for Bereavement Magazine, and has been writing for Grief Digest since its first issue. Among her many other accomplishments, she is currently president and co-founder of GRIEF, Inc., a grief counseling business, and she is Director of the American Grief Academy in Seattle, WA. She can be contacted at Griefinc@aol.com or visit her Web site at www.GriefInc.com.

Update: It hurts our hearts to report that our beloved Darcie died unexpectedly in Puyallup, Washington on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. See Darcie Sims: Nationally Recognized Grief Expert Passes Away



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Oh my, that made me cry. And I hadn't thought, but it is so lovely and so true; what we think of as saying our farewell is never truly what we mean to say. I was with my mother when she died and I never once said goodbye, only 'thank you' and 'I love you.' Over and over and over again.

And I would have wanted, had I known what was to happen, to be with my husband when his heart attack occurred; if I could not save him, then certainly not to say goodbye, but to hold him and kiss and say 'Thank you my darling, I'm here, I'm with you. Be at peace. Know I love you!" It's what I yearn for now, besides his presence, to have had that precious moment to have eased his passing. If only wishing could make it so.

But we did try to 'live our lives so that our last words were 'I love you'. I must try to remember that. Thank you for a sharing something so thoughtful, and beautiful.

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Thank you so much for sharing this Marty. It has helped me a great deal. I have printed it out and read it every day since you shared. :) Blessings, Carol Ann

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