Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Difficulty in Saying Good-bye

I have never liked good-byes. It's just not something I ever enjoy doing. It probably started when my parents were separated and then later divorced as a late teenager and early adult. The thought that foundational relationships could have a permanent end hurt and confused me. Suddenly something I thought was so permanent became broken and disconnected.

I noticed that when we moved from our first married home across the country to Georgia, that I really began to dislike good-byes. When family would come to visit and then leave, the car ride home would be filled with tears (and not all mine). It seemed wrong somehow to have to let people you love go if even for a little while.

When I lost my beautiful son to cancer, I hated good-byes to the core of my being. While my faith teaches and sustains me that I will see my son again, the distance between us right now is often greater than I ever thought possible. I wasn't prepared for the solidity of the loss of him. It tore away a large chunk of myself that I've never been able to fill.

When I lost my amazing younger brother just a few short years later, I felt shocked and numbed that yet another person that I loved was torn away from us. Because he was such a big part of our lives, I loved him deeply and completely and the not having him near made my heart ache all over again and often.

Since that time, I avoid good-byes. I hide in my home when a close friend makes the choice to move. I give a half-hearted hug when family members visit and then leave. I keep myself busy so I don't have to think about saying good-bye or especially feel it when it comes.

I especially struggle at funerals. It is there that I feel the most painful part of a good-bye. And again, while my faith teaches me that relationships are eternal, there is still the distance between loved ones when one has returned home to heaven.

This month my beautiful aunt passed away unexpectedly while on a vacation with her sweet spouse. It was a shock to our family as she was just a few years older than I am. When I heard the news, I was devastated. When you have lost someone yourself, all the grief that you've felt comes out with your new grief for someone that you love. Grief must be a general feeling and when it returns it returns with all past losses and heartaches.

Yesterday was her funeral. It was beautiful. Her sister read the most sweet tribute to her big sister. I cried a lot. We all cried. It isn't that we don't believe we'll see her again. We most certainly do and there is beauty in that faith and knowledge. It's that we can't possibly imagine how we will live without them as the new day dawns. My incredible uncle spoke of how he wondered who he was now without her. I love that they were so entertwined that one without the other isn't a whole piece. I know that feeling. I feel it every day while missing Joey, and my brother Mark. We are always waiting for that final piece of ourselves to return.

I hate good-byes. Yesterday was a difficult good-bye, and as I think about the pain her family must be feeling my heart just aches and aches. I often pray a general prayer of request that families saying their good-byes that day will have added strength and peace. You just never know when someone is preparing for or has just said their good-bye. And you just want to make then whole again. It's been a rough month, and saying good-bye to Jill was so difficult. I hope she feels the love and admiration we all have for her. We will miss her terribly.

18 comments:

  1. Heartfelt prayers for you and your family!

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  2. I am so sorry! I have lost a lot of people in my life that I was close to. Quite a few died from long term illnesses. These were illnesses where you knew they would not recover. And the void is always there. I have no solutions except to suggest that they want you to live a full life, helping others, and thus moving on, living normally and without fear. It is the human condition and we are all in this together, for about 85 years. And we need to be here, now, for the living. I tell myself this everyday. And living in a modern country with access to wonderful things, we can never take our life for granted. We need to be the best we can be, every minute, for those around us. I live with pain every day, and it is really tough. But I do have good days and great days. And I remind myself that I have a reason for being here. God bless!

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  3. So sorry for your loss. Yet, I am so glad that you share your faith and you know that you will see these family members again! How awesome the day will be when there is no more sadness, no more pain! Will pray for you and your family today.

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  4. My prayer for you and your family is the same as you pray for others, added strength during this time, peace in the knowledge that you and your aunt will meet again, and last that your happy memories of your aunt will soon replace today's sorrow.

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  5. Thank you for your honesty and for writing these beautiful words Jen. My prayers to you & your family. You've experienced a lot of loss - both family and friends and I am amazed at the strength you have. It is very inspiring. Thank you.

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  6. I'm so sorry for your loss... I'm going through a bit of that myself right now with close friends moving away and a dear neighbor being told last week that the cancer that she has been fighting off and on for 7 years is now terminal and that her days are limited. She's only a little older than me with an 8 year old son. Needless to say it's hit me hard... I'll be praying for you. ;)

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  7. I'm so sorry for your loss Jen. I know there are no words to comfort you. You will be in my thoughts and prayers!

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  8. Goodbye is one of the hardest words to say on so many levels. Praying for you and your family during these difficult times.

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  9. Those types of goodbyes are so very hard. When I was 32, I said goodbye to my mom as she passed away with pancreatic cancer. Even with my faith and the hope of being with her again in heaven, it hasn't always eased the pain. But God knows our need and He will fill the void. Praying for you and your family during this difficult time.

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  10. I'm so sorry for your loss. I believe that God has a special place for you in heaven after the losses and sadness you've experienced here on earth. May God bless you

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  11. Jen, you are so correct in what you said. My brother Mark (yes, same name as yours) died unexpectedly at the age of 53. He was my best friend for so long. I actually understand the term "It felt like someone ripped my heart out" because that's what it felt like. My sister was physically sick for days, from grieving. I know I will meet up with him and others in eternity but it hurts like hell sometimes. I too am tired of saying goodbye. I am ready for hello. My heart goes out to you for the sadness you have. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on your blog. Praise God we have eternity coming! Susan

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  12. So sorry for your families loss and for your resurfaced pain. You have had a lot of loss and I can't imagine living with that chunk gone. Your blog posts give me a huge reminder to be thankful for those that I love around me because you just never know. And it reminds me of my losses in my life and how fortunate we are that one day it will be all "hello's" and no goodbyes.

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  13. Sorry for your loss and thanks for being able to share. We are not alone.

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  14. You are so brave and courageous to put all of this out there. I have not experienced any of what you are going through I cannot even begin to try and think if how I would cope. Thank heavens for our knowledge and faith that sustains us. You are in my prayers.

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  15. My sincere sympathies to you and all your family. You were ini my prayers last night and will continue to be.

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  16. I am so very sorry for your loss. Saying goodbye to a loved one is extremely hard, especially in death. I lost my grandfather 5 years ago, suddenly. He raised me, so he was my father in my eyes as well as my grandfather. He was my rock, my best friend and to this day, not a day goes by where I am not reminded of our memories together or where I am simply talking to him or thinking of him. The pain is still just as painful as it was five years ago. I too, hate goodbyes. I hope and pray that your aunt Jill is reunited with your son and brother and that you and your family find peace and solace in the upcoming months ahead. Adjusting to life after death is difficult and I pray that you find easier days sooner then later.
    Hugs,
    Jo
    xox

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