If It’s Hard to Say Goodbye, Your Life’s Been Truly Blessed

Woman Waving Goodbye

“You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.” ~Unknown

On the evening of my high school graduation it hit me—the familiar faces and places I’d grown so accustomed to over the last twelve years would soon be changing.

The anxiety of that reality had started to creep into my psyche weeks ago, when I was being fitted for my cap and gown. Standing there looking in the mirror, I remember thinking to myself, “How did I get here?”

Somehow I had gone from a seven-year-old schoolboy to an eighteen-year-old teenager, and I wasn’t quite sure where my youth had gone.

Sitting at the ceremony, one thought continued to occupy my mind.

I knew at the conclusion of our graduation party early the next morning, I would be closing a chapter in my life—one filled with exploration, development, struggles, and growth.

For so many of my fellow classmates, we had been together since kindergarten. We journeyed together, watching each other grow through the innocence of childhood, to the prejudices that develop as young adults.

We went from adorable five year olds without a care in the world, to the awkwardness of puberty and the struggles to live up to societal stereotypes.

In a way they were like family—comfortable like an old sweater; grounding me when I needed a reminder that I belonged to something greater than myself.

It was a bittersweet moment in my life.

While I understood that life didn’t end after graduation, and opportunities were certainly before me, it also meant leaving the safety and security I’d come to rely on over the last twelve years.

As I tossed my cap high into the air I realized it would soon be time to say goodbye.

When my aunt called me that summer morning, I wasn’t completely surprised by the news that my grandmother had passed away.

My wife and I had just visited her the night before, and each of us felt as though her silent stares were her way of telling us goodbye.

My relationship with her was invaluable—a profound part of my existence from a rambunctious child to a young married adult. She was a constant source of joy, love, and support, one I came not only to rely on, but also cherish.

A few years prior, she gave me a photo album she began compiling on the day I was born. A photo album dedicated to my life, featuring photographs, recital programs, and other mementos she religiously collected and safely stored behind a clear sheet of plastic film.

Flipping through the pages after her passing, I felt as though a part of my heart had died along with her.  

I never questioned her love for me; it was incredibly evident each and every time I was in her presence. And while that was a comforting reminder, the loss was intense.

Throughout the memorial service, I was surprised by my complete composure on what was an incredibly sad occasion. But as the church organ began to play and they wheeled her coffin down the center aisle, tears began flowing uncontrollably.

It was a bittersweet moment in my life.

While I knew deep down she was tired of being a prisoner to her physical ailments, accepting that I would never see her again in this earthly life was difficult to acknowledge.

As I wiped the tears from my eyes and headed to the cemetery, I realized it would soon be time to say goodbye.

With the last box loaded on to the moving truck, our house appeared just as it did when we first moved in—empty.

As we meandered from one room to the next greeted by the sound of a faint echo, my wife and I tried our best to hold back the tears to no avail.

We remembered how we first felt as young homeowners.

There was an air of excitement and a feeling of accomplishment swirling around the empty rooms of our new home.

It was there we would host family and friends on cherished holidays or for simple Sunday dinners; where we’d tackle DIY projects together, going from frustrating to entertaining by its completion; where our bodies would grow twelve years older, and our hearts infinitely stronger still.

It had become a place of solace from the harsh world outside our front door. Filled with warmth and overflowing with unforgettable memories, which now seemed to replay in our minds like a documentary chronicling our time there.

It was a bittersweet moment in my life.

While moving our lives across the country provided us with new opportunities both personally and professionally, it also meant leaving a house that had become our home for over a decade.

As the two of us made our way down the stairs of our side hall colonial for the very last time, I realized it would soon be time to say goodbye.

I think we all can agree that saying goodbye is never easy.

And while the word “goodbye” has garnered a rather negative emotional connotation in society, there is another way, a more positive way, to perceive it.

Author A.A. Milne, who is perhaps best known for his books about a teddy bear named Winnie-the-Pooh, once wrote:

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

While saying goodbye does mean accepting that a part of our life is now over, it also provides us with a chance to realize just how blessed our lives have been.

To look back and reflect on the journeys we’ve shared with some wonderful people, while being exposed to amazing and invaluable experiences we often take for granted.

Regardless of how long someone has been a part of our lives, whether it’s five minutes, five years, or five decades, their impact will always remain with us—even after we utter that simple, yet hard to say, two-syllable word.

My stories above are but a small snapshot of the many times during my personal journey when I’ve struggled to utter the word “goodbye.” Regardless of the circumstances, saying goodbye means change, and change rarely comes along with immediate acceptance.

The finality associated with saying goodbye is challenging. Yet it’s an empowering word, enabling us to achieve closure and ultimately move on with our lives.

The quote below, from Walt Disney, has continually provided me comfort on days when I’m feeling sad and lonely and need a little reminder of the blessings I’ve been bestowed, which no one can ever take away.

“Goodbye may seem forever. Farewell is like the end, but in my heart is the memory and there you will always be.”

About Craig Ruvere

Craig Ruvere is an award-winning writer, marketer, and designer living in Northern Colorado. For ten years he was an editorial columnist for The Leader newspaper in New Jersey, and currently maintains the popular blog, The View from Here—celebrating over 500 posts in the last four years. He’s also a prolific songwriter and poet who vows one day to try his hand at oil painting.

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  • neethu nath

    Its so hard..

  • Craig Ruvere

    Yes it is hard, and even re-reading this post today made me realize how difficult it can be. But always remember, the memories never die. That’s what helps you through. Thanks for commenting…all the best, always.

  • neethu nath

    Memories are the problem.. The post is very nice and it was something I wanted to read..

  • Karen S

    Nice post, Craig. I loved the way you linked together all the good byes. And left us feeling as though it’s not for nothing.

  • Craig Ruvere

    Thank you so much Karen for your comment. Goodbyes stink…there’s no way around that. But we need to pull out a positive if we can and realize that they’re helping us get to another place. All the best, always!

  • Craig Ruvere

    I hear you. There are some memories I’d rather forget, but they’ve also helped to shape me into the person I am today 🙂

  • Courtney

    Thanks for making me cry, Craig! PI seem to always make goodbyes harder than they need to be by fighting and not wanting to let go; refusing to look at them as blessings because I thought something that’s good for you isn’t supposed to hurt! Only through therapy, losing someone special, and deciding to pack my new puppy, two year old son, and myself up to move from the mountains of North Georgia to Central Texas, I’m finally experiencing that saying goodbye can be a blessing. that goodbyes don’t always have to be a battlefield (even though I still try to fight and sometimes give in to the urge just to temporarily ease the pain.) But time helps heal and you can’t fix or change something that happened a few days ago, a few weeks ago, or years ago. Thank you for sharing this! I’ve got it bookmarked on my phone to read whenever I feel the need to fight goodbyes. Plus it’s perfect since we’re going through a 5 planet retrograde where we’re forced to look at our pasts and reevaluate our values, love lives, and decisions that have lead us to where we are and shaped who we have become!

  • Craig Ruvere

    I am honored that my post inspired you so much Courtney and for sharing your very personal story. It’s so very easy to look at “goodbyes” negatively. And while they hurt, God do they hurt when you’re experiencing them, ultimately when you emerge you see how much they’ve helped you grow, mature, move on and cherish where you’ve been. I too can think about some goodbyes and find tears welling up in my eyes still. But when I realize how much I’ve been able to overcome, while still cherishing what I’ve experienced, the tears soon subside. Much luck and happiness to you always 🙂

  • Adam

    Great article Craig. I remember when I was younger, goodbyes were so difficult. But thanks to my great memory, it’s nice to know that they have not left, but rather are stored in a vault at a bank in my mind.
    Thank You and take care.

  • Craig Ruvere

    Thanks so much for your comment Adam. I truly appreciate it. You are so right! As long as we have good memories to call upon, that helps to ease the pain often associated with goodbyes. You can never shield yourself from having to say goodbyes in your life, but the memories do help. All the best to you 🙂

  • Iva Ursano

    Great article Craig. I experienced this after spending 3 weeks in a tiny town in Costa Rica volunteering. I cried myself to sleep for 3 days before I had to board the plane to come back home to Canada. The people touched my heart in ways it had never felt before and I realized while I was down there that soulmate doesn’t mean lover.

  • Craig Ruvere

    Thanks so much for your comment Iva! Isn’t it amazing how goodbyes can actually be eye opening experiences you never expected? All the best to you always!

  • Nguyễn Mão

    I enjoy your blog so much!

  • Craig Ruvere

    Thank you SO much for your comment. That means a lot! Writing meaningful posts like this not only help the reader, but the writer as well 🙂 All the best to you 🙂

  • Kim

    I love this! Thank you!! It is coming at exactly the right time as I’ve been grieving over a goodbye I need to make in the near future.

  • Frank Gonzalez

    This post resonated with me as it’s been almost a year since my wife and I both lost our son. He was 24 and had a young son of his own that was the center of his life. We’ve struggled with his passing, but have deeply in our faith to carry on. I like your ending phrase – Goodbye may seem forever. Farewell is like the end, but in my heart is the memory and there you will always be.

  • Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    Same here…

  • Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a memory no one can steal.” One of my fav quotes when it comes to the death of someone dear to us…. Thank you for sharing your story; one of the most BEAUTIFUL posts I’ve ever read! 🙂 Your story really resonated with me since I’ve always struggled with saying ‘goodbyes’ for as long as I can remember….

  • Its tough. The flip side to having such great experiences is not having them anymore. And the black void that can follow. Then walking around life comparing everything to the last great experience that you had. The best thing you can do is just come up with a plan for the next great thing that you´ll do, but holy hell it can be tough not looking back

  • LaTrice Dowe

    When I was growing up, my mom would tell me that good-bye isn’t forever; instead, I’ll see them later. Her words stuck onto me like glue, and it’s something that I won’t forget.

    My best friend passed away seven years ago. She was the only person that I maintained a friendship with after graduating from high school. The last time I saw her physically was eight years ago, one year before she died. We went to Walt Disney World for three days, and honestly, I don’t regret it. It’s one of the best memories that I will ALWAYS cherish for the rest of my life. I got to spend one week with her. I couldn’t fly to Montana to see her cremains spread in the mountains because I wasn’t ready to close that chapter with her. I want to leave the door open.

    I know I can’t see the people that I adored physically, but I know that they’re ALWAYS with me spiritually.

    Thank you for writing this excellent article, Craig.

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