Don't Be Afraid to Say GoodBye

Friday, June 03, 2016 @ 12:10 PM

Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What? We have to say Goodbye???
I have ALWAYS hated goodbyes. I cannot stand it when good books end, people move, jobs end, and most significantly when relationships end. However, as Henry Cloud says in his book Necessary Endings, “Without the ability to end things, people stay stuck, never becoming who they are meant to be, never accomplishing all that their talents and abilities should afford them.”

I first learned there could be some kind of “art in ending" from a severely depressed 15 yr. old boy. He had been "inpatient" on an adolescent psychiatric unit for 8 weeks. He was soon to be discharged and he was very ambivalent about leaving. He felt safe with us and scared of his future without the support we provided. But it was one of those necessary endings that Henry Cloud speaks of and he could not progress “locked up”. In order for him to really grow he had to go home. We therapists talk a lot of “closure” instead of goodbye. So as a newbie therapist, I set out to have some healthy "closure" with this young man. We reviewed what he had learned, who he had become and we celebrated his accomplishments. He thanked all those who helped him. He cried and so did I. This goodbye turned into a very powerful experience full of emotions and of hope. I realized right then that it was possible to end well!!

But most of us avoid endings and so we rob ourselves of this powerful experience. We don’t say thank you, we don’t celebrate enough, we don't assess our progress, we just avoid the ending. As a child of divorce, I often hung on to relationships that were unhealthy because I didn’t think I could handle the loss, the sadness, the ending. How many of us stay stuck? How many of us stay in the same job because we are afraid to try something new? As Henry Cloud says, a "necessary ending" can force us to see what we are made of, to utilize our talents and even to find new ones as we move on.

None of us like saying goodbye, but we know it is necessary. It is necessary for us to say goodbye in order for us to pursue the dreams God has put in our hearts. So let's end well, let's celebrate what we had, say goodbye, cry a bit (or maybe a lot!) and look forward to what God has for us in this next chapter. And most importantly, let's trust the God who orchestrates all this.