Don’t worry, Mom. We’re not moving again.
But, we sure have done a lot of that in the last few years — four years to be exact. It was four years ago this month that we put our house on the market in Nashville. Since then, we’ve had two seasons as nomad-fundraisers, two years in India, a very unsettled year in Nashville and a little over six months in Seattle.
I’ve learned a lot about saying goodbye — none of it the easy way. A few random thoughts that Harry promises me aren’t too preachy:
- We started staying goodbye to Nashville in 2009 to prepare to go to India. That set in motion a chain of goodbyes that seemed to be never ending. Family. Friends who felt like family. Short-term visitors to India. I wasn’t prepared for that. I’m not sure anyone is.
- I’ve learned it’s better not to say goodbye too soon. Enjoy the time you have with people. Don’t be so worried about what’s next that you forget to savor the joys of living life alongside people you love today — even if you know you’ll only be there for a short time.
- Saying goodbye is hard. It’s supposed to be.
- There’s a time to keep your most intimate circle small. It’s called taking care of yourself. (And, if you think you don’t need to do that, you haven’t lived long enough yet.)
- But, there’s also a time to widen the circle and share life with more people.
- Saying goodbye well is more than throwing or attending a farewell party. I have a love/hate relationship with “the farewell party.” It may offer some closure, but parties are expected to be fun. When is it appropriate to grieve?
- Make time to grieve. This looks different for everybody. For me, I need to be able to be sad. I need to cry — even though I fight it kicking and screaming. I need to know someone understands. But, ultimately, I need to be reminded that grief — while necessary — is not the end.
- Grieve with everything you have. Or it will hang on to you and not let go. It will cover all of your relationships and all of your experiences and you won’t be able to see the good in your life.
- Don’t compare your grief to that of others. We all have our own crosses to bear. Own your own struggle. It’s not helpful to anyone to say (or think) that your life is harder than someone else’s or vice versa.
- Just like it’s ok to miss things from a previous season/place, it’s ok to not like everything about the next place/season. I’m learning to passionately dislike things. It makes it easier to enjoy the things meant to be enjoyed.
- All seasons have some joy — even if you are in a season of grief. Life can be hard, people. Don’t pretend it’s not. Sometimes, our circumstances are so hard they don’t lend themselves to joy. Sometimes, the joy comes from the peace of knowing God — and nothing else. But, sometimes there are small joys in the midst of trials that grief or bitterness blind us to. Look for joy. I might even say fight for joy.
- Don’t let fear of feeling grief again keep you from making new friends and letting new people share your world. It’s not possible to experience life without pain. Pain is a part of this world. Sharing pain is the stuff good friendships are made of. (No, I am not a sadist.)