Why is it so hard to say goodbye?

‘All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.’

Anatole France

We have to say goodbye a lot in our lives. Not just relationships but old homes, possessions, habits and more. For me, it has been colleagues at work, my mother, and workplaces.

Even things like a TV series such as Friends or Cheers, after a long run, have to end. It was the time we all had to say goodbye to all our favourite characters but also that time in my life. In the final series, all the characters deal with big changes in their lives, art imitating life.

It always gets me; I feel it in my heart area, and it makes me feel so much that I want and sometimes cry for the loss I feel. Even recognising the need to move on to those moments can still be difficult. So why is it so hard?

I’m unsure I can give any good answers, but here’s my take on it.

We feel so much because a part of ourselves is being left behind as well. We make our own identity from the things in our lives. The people, the job, our possessions, and our beliefs. It’s all part of the web that makes up who are are.

I’m the person that watches Friends, has these friends, and does this job. So when it comes to giving up on that old job, our home we feel a part of us is lost too. It leaves us feeling a little empty.

We have to say goodbye to individuals who have, in their way, made us who we are. A mixture of both loss and triumph, of sorrow and joy.

We don’t want things to change because we like things the way they are. There’s a feeling of something that is supporting falling apart, and life always feels like it is falling apart; we feel disorientated and uncertain.

We can doubt our capacity to change and face the responsibility of our own lives and stormy existence.

Letting go is one of the hardest things we have to do. Yet, in part, we know it’s necessary. We don’t want to stay as we are; we are never satisfied with what we have, so week seek novelty and growth.

It’s those moments of transition, however small, that make our life what it is. Yet look how conflicted we are about it. We want to cling to what we feel is important, yet we also want to let go.

A part of me wants to make it easier but is that wise? Perhaps the biggest answer I have realised is that it’s supposed to be difficult because that means it’s important.

What we are letting go of is a big part of our life, and it’s proper to acknowledge that, to feel it, and honour it.

To me, the lesson is to enjoy the moments more. Enjoy the time I have with friends, possessions, art, the world etc. Just think now, the friends you have now, your family, your home and work. One day you will have to say goodbye.

‘Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together’

Marilyn Monroe.

It’s in those places of transition, those pivotal moments that can define us as individuals, but change and suffering unites us all. In these moments, we find common ground with each other. A reason to reach out and connect.

Never forget what these moments of goodbye mean to you. But never let them paralyse you. You still have a life to lead. The last lesson is to remember to say goodbye, to remember to tell them how much they mean to you.

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