Saying goodbye essentially means letting go

Q: I would like to know how to say goodbye. Seven years ago, I graduated from university and took a job teaching Grade 3 out here in the country.

I would never have guessed when I took that job that I would be opening myself to so much in life. I was a young, single lady, really excited about my job and open to meeting new people in new places, doing what were for me new and different things (even curling in bonspiels). Seven years later, I have met and married the man I love. We have had a child with another one on the way, and I have made some terrific friends, both in the staff room at school and in the community at large.

Unfortunately, the lure of the farm got to both my husband and me, and when Grandpa died and gave us a chance to go back to the farm we could not turn our backs on it. But what it means is leaving this community and moving more than 200 kilometres down the road.

I know that is only a couple of hours away but I also understand that it is a lifetime gone by and that once we leave here, we will be on our way to making new friends and meeting new neighbours.

I want to hang on to as much as I can from this place, it has meant so much to both me and my husband, but I don’t know how. How can we say goodbye in such a way that we are able to preserve those personal treasures that have meant so much to us these past few years?

I think that what I am trying to say is, how can we say good-bye without letting go?

A: I don’t want to be crass about this but the reality is that you can’t say goodbye without letting go. That would be like breathing in and breathing out at the same time.

You either say goodbye or you say hello. It is either/or. Please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that you and your friends and neighbours cannot care about each other. Who knows, you may even share some times together, meeting up for Christmas or flying to Cuba for a post-pandemic holiday. That is great.

But once you settle into Grandpa’s farm and your life takes on a new trajectory, living life with your friends, as you knew it, becomes lost in the wake of new friends, new responsibilities and new opportunities.

You must say goodbye. More than that, you probably have to grieve a little bit. We tend to think of grieving as something that we do when we are faced with the prospect of death and dying in our families. Certainly the death of someone who is very significant is difficult, but so is the loss of friendship.

Once you have settled on the farm you might have to grieve a bit. Let yourself feel sad. Why not? You are going to miss all of those people who were around when you and your husband met and courted each other, when you started having babies, when you fell down on the ice at the curling rink, and when you took your turn cooking burgers for the ball team.

But not everything is lost. You are going to a new place. You are going to make new friends. What you are taking with you in your new home are all of those memories of your old friends, of the confidence that has given you for finding your way in Grandpa’s town, and with those memories and assurances from the friends you made when you left university and took on a new life for yourself, you have a reservoir of self esteem that lasts a lifetime.

Jacklin Andrews is a family counsellor from Saskatchewan. Contact: jandrews@producer.com.

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