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Goodbyes Are Hard

Goodbyes are hard. So hard, in fact, that many of us skip that step within our relationships. Whether saying goodbye as in “see you later,” or goodbye as a final step in creating closure in a relationship, we often deny ourselves the opportunity to practice this important human interaction.

For many people, goodbyes are uncomfortable; they provide the opportunity to both experience and express the value that the relationship or person has had in our life. This vulnerability—displaying the difficulty we may experience in separating from one another— is a common challenge in a world where many are told to “stay strong,” avoiding all chances that you might cry, express other emotions, or be perceived as “overly sensitive.”

Two people inside an airport terminal wave at an airplane.

That’s all bogus. The human condition is about experiencing emotions and connecting with others through relationship.

Saying goodbye is a cathartic exercise in interpersonal connection and validating the impact people and experiences have on our lives. It’s important to honor the footprint others leave on our heart. It’s equally important to recognize that not all relationships are meant to be life-long. Many are time-limited; they are established for a specific reason, and when life circumstances shift, as they inevitably do, the relationship no longer serves its previous function. It’s okay to let relationships ebb and flow, and let some float away; that doesn’t mean they didn’t matter. We’re continuously evolving. Accordingly, our needs change and so do the relationships that fulfill those needs.

So practice saying goodbye. Do what feels right to express the value that their friendship, their support, or their camaraderie has for you. Allow others to see the impact that their presence has on you. And when it’s time to say goodbye, whether just for now or forever, know that in saying goodbye you're not devaluing the time spent with this person, but saying: “You matter, and you’ve been part of my story.”

Goodbyes may be hard, but that doesn’t mean we should pretend they don’t exist; emotional discomfort often equals emotional growth, something we all need to continually pursue joy and life satisfaction.

About the Author

Lauren Robbins

Lauren Robbins is a mental health therapist in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. She is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, and a Certified Perinatal Mental Health Provider.

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