How We Hate Goodbyes

I remember reading one time in a book the proposition that the word “goodbye” is the worst word in the English language. Certainly there are other nasty words in English – like the word “cancer” – but I have to admit, it’s hard to think of a word that carries with it more pain than the word “goodbye” does.

It’s hard enough to say goodbye when you know that you will see the loved one whom you are leaving again. The more distance that is about to separate you, the harder the goodbye feels. I have had to leave dear friends on the other side of the planet, and the ache of such a parting has left me in tears in my bed back at home.

Lovers cringe when they have to be separated. After half a dozen attempted goodbyes and even more looking back, the taking leave finally occurs, and then the missing and the yearning set in.

Hard as they can be, these goodbyes are sadly part of life. The goodbyes that are truly unnatural are the ones that are permanent. Above I have written about instances where we have to part from someone for a season, yet know that we will get to meet them again at some point. We experience inner longing at such times, but we can usually push through such seasons. However, moving through the forever loss of someone we love can seem impossible. Facing a permanent goodbye can make us feel like we’re drowning in grief.

Sometimes, with these goodbyes, we don’t even get to say “goodbye” before we lose the person we love. Death is usually the cause of such unexpected partings. When it steals our loved one, we question the very world around us. Nothing seems to make sense anymore. We grope about in life, shot through with confusion and pain. How can it be that the globe is still spinning the way that it has always spun when our loved one has been taken so cruelly? How can reality itself bear to function?

Death is cruel. The way it comes about this often torment. I remember how cancer ate away at my grandfather. By the end he looked like he had been in a concentration camp. You could count his bones. He was in so much pain. Sometimes, when I would read to him, he didn’t even seem to understand who I was. This weakness came upon a man who had been athletic and strong. That’s how death works.

We humans were not meant to experience the loss of our loved ones. We weren’t meant to see them die the ways they die. We weren’t meant for these losses, these forever “goodbyes”. Deep inside you, I suspect you already know that.

So what do we do? Is that it? Is there no hope for us? On the contrary, there is balm for our aching hearts. The same God who will give us “belonging” (see last post) will also comfort the hearts of those who are sad. He is like a counselor, like a friend… But even better. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” It takes a supernatural being to be able to actually heal your heart.

There is certainly more to be said about how this God can heal your heart from hurt, but that must be saved for another time. You can always find out more in the “about” section of this blog. For now, please hold on, and don’t give up in the midst of whatever loss or grief you are facing. Deep grief is a heavy thing, and facing it is a process. Know that you are not alone.

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