Getting used to saying and living through goodbyes
Life is an endless exercise of goodbyes. Whether tangible or intangible, losses are ongoing, and we are expected to move on. Tangible losses are those we can quantify and actually see. Intangible losses are difficult to measure and highly subjective. In life we lose. Perhaps, however, this is so we can gain something else. I know it is difficult to reframe a painful loss into at least, the addition of meaning or even knowledge and experience. When we are faced with loss, we just want to hang on to what or who we are losing very tight and not let go. The prospect of having to go on without is at times unbearable.
So, learning to say goodbye in peace and then pick up the pieces to build something new is an invaluable life skill. One as important or more as anything else. The end result is what we call resilience:
"Resilience is the psychological quality that allows some people to be knocked down by the adversities of life and come back at least as strong as before. Rather than letting difficulties, traumatic events, or failure overcome them and drain their resolve, highly resilient people find a way to change course, emotionally heal, and continue moving toward their goals."(X)
Just like any quality or skill, the more you exercise it the better and stronger it gets. This does not mean that losses will not be powerfully felt, but rather that you will be able to continue on an even greater journey and much more readily make meaning out of adversity. Resilience, however, is not just about trauma or big adverse events. You can build resilience while living a fairly uneventful life. Opportunities are everywhere as life in general is not always easy. Take for example the weather. If you reside in Michigan or Minnesota in the winter, the simple act of getting out of bed, get ready and drive to work in the morning is an act of courage and yes, rather resilient. Similarly, if you have ever been laid off work, the simple act of getting ready to look for employment denotes a resilient and courageous disposition. Do not lose an opportunity to pat yourself on the back.
This brings me to the next point: Resilience and Courage are intimately connected.
One of my favorite quotes is "Courage is fear walking." by Susan Davis, Ph.D. It perfectly depicts the act of getting through, perhaps pushing through adversity. It is an action, and it is not accidental but intentional. So, this describes the first element required of you when you have to say goodbye to something or someone: walk. Walk, run, clean, plan...do something to help your grounding in the moment. Do not entertain your pain but focus on what is in front of you. It is during the most difficult times that you need to take care of what is essential: your rest, exercise, meals.
This is not to say that you have to "neglect" your pain, your anger, your longing. But solely feeling what or who you no longer have blinds you to what this moment means and what is to come. You need to actively "pick up" the pieces, pick yourself up so you can cope with an almost endless flood of emotions and questions.
Focus on what you are able to control: You can make a difference there
Now, you can practice some self-compassion. Acknowledge your loss and feel how you are being impacted by it. BUT do not stay there. Go back to what you are able to control to move ahead.
While you move through the wreckage, courage is your engine. It propels you forward when each step is full of doubt and fear. Goodbyes are part of life's journey. Do you plummet or rise up?
Others may be able to lend a hand through the bad times: friends, family, therapist... Do not close up to support and let them know you need help in some way. Do not expect others to be mind readers and then be angry because they were not there for you. This is an opportunity to get closer to someone else and in turn build a stronger bond. Are you ready to approach someone with a sensitive or difficult subject? Are you afraid of what they may think of you? Z Form may be able to help. Z Form lays the ground for advancing through uncertain times.