Why does it take a minute to say hello and forever to say goodbye? (Anonymous)
Goodbye comes from God be with you. It has been shortened over the years since 16th century, and the word good substituted for God. Shakespeare used "God be wy you."#
Life is in many ways is a series of endings.
How much we have connected to that person or living creature, place or event will determine in part how heavily we feel its loss.
We would not grieve otherwise.
Better to have loved and lost than never loved at all. (Alfred Lord Tennyson)
The depth of our love or need will often be a measure of our grief.
Many changes have more positive sides than negatives - as most endings also are new beginnings.
So these are thought of as more of a gain than a loss.
• coming of age (losing one's childhood)
• getting married (losing one's single life)
• graduation (losing one's fellow students and way of life)
• buying a new home (losing one's former home, neighbours etc) In fact, birthdays are also an acknowledgement of the loss of the year or decade before.
Other changes or losses cause great pain and disruption to
• one's sense of self
• one's being loved and supported
• one's ability to express love and care
• the pattern of one's daily life
• one's future hopes and dreams.
Some losses can never be replaced, even if life moves on and brings new blessings and opportunities.
Death is an obvious one: The death of
• a life partner, wife or husband, lover
• a child, parent, other family member
• a close friend
• a companion animal
Other losses may be less obvious, coming through breakdowns in relationships, ageing or trauma.
• divorce is the death of a marriage, and the loss of a family unit for many
• losing a limb, body function or looks through accidents and trauma
• becoming disabled through ageing can be the death of a way of life
• moving home through ageing to more functional living places can also be the death of a way of life
Being able to "Say Goodbye" in a way that honours the person or people involved, the living creatures, or the way of life and all that they meant to us is vitally important.
Somehow the process of remembering, putting the key elements together in a way that binds them into a whole, can become a resource in our inner world from which we can draw strength and even hope for the future.
Also being able to share that process which others, strengthens our sense of community - of not being alone in dealing with the losses in our lives. This process can also assist those close to us to re-orient their relationships to us.
For example, without appropriate acknowledgement of a major change, such as the breakdown of a marriage, many couples find themselves as divorced people very isolated and alone.
Former good friends don't know how to relate anymore, what is appropriate for discussion or activities and so avoid the issue altogether by dropping the friendships.
Meaningful Ceremonies are the time honoured way for humans to mark these rites of passage.
Unfortunately the pace of change in many areas of our lives means we have largely lost our opportunities for using ceremony.
This does not need to be the case.
Civil celebrants in particular are growing in popularity for helping others to celebrate the major rites of passage and are available to plan and conduct a range of ceremonies for other aspects of our lives.
The Celebrants Network is here to:
- advise and assist community members who recognise the need for such ceremonies, and
- promote a range of ceremonies by supporting celebrants via our Australia-wide network.
Please contact us if you have a special need or would like more information.
# Source: Dictionary of Word Origins. John Ayto.