How to say goodbye

Bye! See you later! Facebook me!!

Not all goodbyes end on a parting wave or a extra-long hug. Some goodbyes ripen over hours or days –  even weeks. And what do you do when faced with an inevitable parting that leaves you bereft of an important companion? Are you quick to disappear into solitude to mourn the loss alone? Do you pounce on opportunities to be more social trying to fill the gap?

The volunteer community at Kripalu is now wrestling with these questions as 30 or so now ex-volunteers re-enter the world outside while 30 or no new volunteers arrive. I’m definitely excited to meet the new folks. Earlier today a friend reminded me of the powerful decisions these people had to make to organize their lives in order to be here for four months of service. These people are already rock stars in my book…

And while I welcome the new group, I am grieving the departure of some very dear souls – people I feel incredibly lucky to count as friends; people who have helped me become a more conscious, loving, and authentic human being.

A wise friend prompted me to make lists of the things I wanted to hold onto and the things I wanted to let go of from my relationships with these people.

For example, I took one relationship that had been especially meaningful and I began with what I wanted to release along with his departure…

Letting go of


feeling unseen

feeling unheard

feeling replaced

feeling used

returning again and again to something that doesn’t feel good

searching for self-acceptance through someone else

using him to love myself

my story about him

the need for him to know everything about my process


Then I carefully recalled all that I wanted to keep with me – the gems, the jewels, the precious moments of who we became through our time together…


Holding onto

growth through dialogue

fun, shared experiences

our jokes

lessons: be clear with my wants; honor someone’s truth as they tell it

validation of the still small voice

being open to the future as it unfolds

my listening brilliance and keen perception

my desire to dig deep

my willingness to be seen

my desire to love and be loved

the positive impact I can have on others’ lives

not giving up

I invite you to try making lists like this next time you find yourself saying goodbye. Make it personal, create a ritual, tell a story about your experiences with that person. Grieving doesn’t have to be about giving in to sorrow – for me, it meant giving up and letting go of somethings and holding onto others.




2 thoughts on “How to say goodbye

  1. Grandma says:

    Oh my dear one. I think it takes years to learn to examine our lives and face the need to make the choices you have made. I reflect on your amazing ability to articulate those choices. Your strengths and your insights. You are truly a blessed person and your exceptional insights gives everyone deeper understanding of the important milestones of life. I love you Natanya May you continue to go from strength to strength. grandma

  2. How ’bout the timing in this place? Just today I said a very big goodbye, and now here’s a tool I can use to move forward with grace. Good exercise to start off 2011 as well. Thanks!

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