Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How to say goodbye

Today I am cleaving.  The word has a strange double sense; it can mean both to divide and to hold fast.  Tonight, several roads and a few hundred miles separate me from a home I have loved. Soon, more roads and more miles will join me to a new place, new work, new friends.

Goodbyes announce departures and divisions. However, like the paradox of cleaving, a wise farewell can also join us one to another. "Goodbye"--a contraction of "God be with ye!"--should remind us that within God's household we cannot be lost to one another. 

How to say goodbye if your friend is leaving
  1. Name the ways and reasons you have appreciated your friend. Explain how they have made a difference in your life and community (see here for some examples).
  2. Have a party. Come early, stay late, and bring a meaningful gift, like a framed travelers' blessing (for example, like this).
  3. Give hugs. 
  4. Print out some picture of you and your friend. Especially in a day of digital dominance, a tangible photo can be a comforting and encouraging token.
  5. Help with the practical aspects of leaving--packing boxes, loading trucks, etc.
  6. Whenever your friend mentions leaving, scowl and yell and say "This is not allowed!" (Note: Only very close friends should attempt this, and it must always be combined with #3 and #7). 
  7. Say, "This is good. This is time."
  8. If you help your friend pack, hide little messages in the boxes, so your friend will be surprised by encouraging words when he or she unpacks in a new place. 
  9. Arrange one last trip to a place you have enjoyed together. This could be day trip to Austin or a quick trip for frozen yogurt. 
  10. Promise to write letters. Go buy stamps and begin the first epistle the day your friend leaves.
How to say goodbye if you are leaving
  1. Have all your friends write their addresses on envelopes or postcards. Once you move, write a note explaining why you have been thankful for that person. 
  2. Bless the places you are leaving. If you live with others, rise early one morning and walk through the house you have shared, whispering prayers at the front door (peace to all who enter), in the living room (joy to all who gather), and in the dining room (strength to all who eat). 
  3. Become a shutterbug. Pester your friends for pictures, and snap photos of the ordinary places that have been the settings for your work, play, rest, and worship.
  4. Purchase seeds for golden chard, butternut squash, or purple-hull peas. Keep them safe until you can plant them in a new garden. 
  5. See # 3, 4, and 9, above.
  6. Pray with your friends. Hold hands and ask God to watch over those you are leaving.
  7. Begin planning your first visit back.
  8. Rise early on the day you must leave, and spend the morning drinking tea with a friend. Keep the kettle going. Add sugar to the tea as though it were a holy day.
  9.  As you leave, listen to songs that are heavy with the strange, inseparable joy and sorrow of cleaving.
10. Say what you mean

How do you say farewell when a friend leaves home? When you are the one leaving? How can ways of saying goodbye bind us together?


  1. Oh Bethany! I am so, so happy for this next step for you. My only regret is that we didn't get to know you sooner and longer! You are and always will be an example to me of so many things I strive and hope to be! Thank you for your beautiful words and incredible wisdom. Your leadership has been such a gift to us all! We're looking forward to have a reason to visit Mobile now, but you have left a hole in our hearts and in our Life Group. Keep updating this blog so we'll never be far in spirit... ok?

  2. What wonderful suggestions for saying goodbye. I am going to borrow several of them. Wishing you many blessings as you say goodbye!