As this is my last blog post for Healthy Minds Canada (*tear*), I thought it would be relevant to talk about saying goodbye and how it affects our mental health… whether we’re saying goodbye to a friend, a loved one, a pet, or a burrito that we just inhaled, it always has some sort of impact on us, no matter how small.
When did the concept of saying goodbye get such a bad rap? From what I gather in the basic composition of the word, it seems like the whole point is to say bye and do it good (*well – I know – but I had to take some creative license here to make my point). For some reason, along the way, thanks to Dawson’s Creek and 90210, saying goodbye turned into something negative that we’ve been programmed to avoid at all costs so as not to look like Dawson when he ugly cried in that one episode (see below).
Saying goodbye has turned into something that causes fear, anxiety and dread. It should, in reality, encourage you to be thoughtful of how you want to leave things, appreciate what you’ve had and share some good before the inevitable bye.
I can’t count on both hands the number of times that I’ve dreaded goodbyes and turned them into bad-byes and ugly crying-byes because I didn’t prepare myself mentally or emotionally in the way that I should have. Yes, goodbyes are often sucky-byes. And yes, parting ways with someone or something is never easy. But I really do think that we can do some work on the front end to prepare ourselves for these moments of separation so that we focus on the good, prepare for the bye, and move on feeling some semblance of positivity about what has transpired.
So, to make things simple, I’m going to outline my newly discovered approach to putting the good back into goodbye through the use of a burrito-eating metaphor.
- Enjoy the burrito while you’re eating it. I know we’ve been told to live in the moment a thousand times before, but we still need to hear it again. Enjoy today while it’s still today. To quote Andy Bernard from one of my favourite shows, the Office, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them”. Be present, enjoy the moments, the people and the burritos that you experience so that when they’re gone, at least you know that you made the best of every ounce.
- Appreciate the burrito for what it was and not what you expected it to be. So many times when we’re getting ready to part ways with something or someone, we focus on all of the things that could have been instead of all of the things that were. No one or no thing will ever be exactly what we expected it to be, so it makes much more sense to focus on what it was. Who cares if they ran out of guacamole right before you got there, think about how great it was that the burrito saved you $2.99 instead.
- Focus on what you’ve gained, not what you’ve lost. In the case of the burrito, you’ve gained about 2000 calories and a date with the treadmill later, but hopefully you get the point. I often fear saying goodbye because I’m focusing on what I’m going to be losing instead of focusing on what I’ve gained from the connection. As hard as it may be, when you find yourself getting down about a tough goodbye, focus on everything that you’ve gained from that person, thing or Mexican bean bomb, and try not to focus on what you will lose when it’s gone.
- Remember the burrito fondly. After it’s gone, try to look back on your experience fondly and avoid reminiscing about the feelings of loss that you experienced at the end. Remember the good old days when you just unwrapped the burrito and started digging on, or when you hit the layer after the lettuce topping and really got into the good stuff. Remember the positives, it will only make saying goodbye to the next one a little more bearable.
Now I know that I used a ridiculous example to get my point across but I hope it lightened up a difficult subject just a bit to help you realize that saying goodbye is a part of life… just as eating is. And, of course, it’s going to be difficult and some goodbyes are going to feel next to impossible. But they are going to happen, so the more that we can practice approaching them with positivity, awareness and appreciation, the more we can experience the good along with the bye.
So, with that, I want to thank you all for reading and thank you all for being a part of this incredible journey. Be well. Goodbye… and I really mean that.
About Kathryn Christie
As an HR Consultant with a deep passion for Mental Health, Kathryn spends her days pushing paper and her nights volunteering with the Canadian Mental Health Association as a co-facilitator of the Family and Caregiver Education program. Her passion extends beyond the realm of her volunteer work which has brought her to Healthy Minds Canada to share stories, support and inspiration with her community.