10 June, 2016

It hurts because it was good

I'm acutely aware of how good it is that we're not packing to leave the country this month. This is the first June in three years that we haven't been doing that. However the flip side of that coin is that we're saying goodbye to those who are packing. I've been to another farewell event today.

This was a farewell picnic in Australia last year. We weren't
speaking words of farewell, but we were enjoying time
 together. I'm feeling teary just thinking about how
precious that time was!
June two years ago I wrote a short post that linked to 41 tips for these times: for those who are moving, for those who are staying, and for those who are receiving the movers. Today I repost the link to the "staying" post because it is helpful to me now as I stay.

Here are some helpful points to remind myself:

  • Grief is not just associated with death. Allow myself to grieve these losses too.
  • It's important to mark the event, to say something (or write something, as I did here on Wednesday). Mind you, today the farewell event was wordless. The couple who are leaving served the staff and family community by making us lunch. No speeches, just service. I'm sure that they'll have said words in other venues, to close friends etc, but today it was just them serving us in a special way. Different love languages say farewells differently too? I'd personally rather write something or hug someone to say farewell than have to come up with meaningful words face-to-face. I remember saying farewell to our home church last year in June and the words we had to say in front of everyone. It was really hard. Harder still was all the one-on-one farewells afterwards. What I remember most from that day, though, was a little girl who has few words, but sat on my lap and hugged me for ages. It was a precious farewell, though I don't think she realised that that's what was going on.
  • Friends aren't necessarily friends forever. It's okay to have friends just for a season.
  • And stemming from the above two points, different levels of friendship should get different levels of farewells too. We're saying goodbye not just to close friends, but also to people who's names we know, but not a lot else about them, but we'll miss seeing them about. We're saying goodbye to people who we've enjoyed working with, but never shared an intimate conversation over coffee. We're saying goodbye to the cohort of 2015-2016, knowing that though much of it will be the same in 2016-2017 school year, there will be faces missing. Some of these levels of friendship require deep words, some don't. But taking the time to recognised the grief is worth it.
  • Part of the grief is that there will be new faces in 2016-2017 who don't know the faces that we're missing.
  • Go away and come back. I'm glad that though we don't have a big trip back to Australia this year, we've still got big plans—our trip to Hokkaido in 10 days and our camping tour in July. It will be good to go away, take a break from these farewells, and come back renewed and ready to re-engage.
One of the best pieces of advice from the author of the above post is to give grace: to others around you who are just trying to cope with the pain of parting/or staying and to give grace to myself as I walk through all these emotions and thoughts.

But lastly—it hurts because it's good. These people from whom we part have been God's gift to us during the last X number of months/years/decades. It hurts when a good thing ends. So the hurt has an element of good to it—because it was good to have known these people, it hurts to say goodbye.

Wow, that's a whole lot more than I'd thought I was going to write on this topic. I guess it's closer to my heart than I thought.  Just so that you know, I'm not a crippled mess. I'm not crying (well, maybe just a little, occasionally). I'm not immobolised at all. I'm just stopping to recognise that life will never be the same again, just like this year was like no other.

No comments: