How Do You Say Goodbye?

September 1, 2021

How do you say goodbye? Not the kind of goodbye with the potential of “I’ll see you later,” the kind of goodbye that stays, forever. The kind that means gone and final and never again. The kind that changes futures and changes hearts. The kind of goodbye that you never forget and the kind you wish you never needed. 

How do you say a forever goodbye? Is it with a simple “I love you.”? Is it with a hug and a smile? Is it a delicate “thank you” side-by-side with an “I’ll never forget you?” How can you possibly plan the words significant enough for a final goodbye? Words seem insignificant in a moment like this but they also seem necessary. Such a contradiction of what you want and what must be. 

How do you vocalize a final goodbye? It’s certainly with a broken heart, a confused mind and eyes full of tears but what else? How do you compose the elements of this fragile moment in time? How do you comprehend the fleeting life that sits in front of you? How do you release the sentiments of your heart in a way that feels appropriate and meaningful? 

How do you say “go on ahead” while desperately hoping they’ll never go? How do you say “I’ll be ok” when you’re wondering how you’ll ever carry on? How do you say goodbye when all you want is to shout “Stay! Stay! Stay!”? How do you say a goodbye that is unwelcome and certainly one you’re unprepared for? How do you say goodbye when you’re breathless with lips refusing to move? 

How do you say goodbye to your safe space and someone that feels like home? How do you say goodbye to someone who holds pieces of you that no one else does? How do you say goodbye to someone you love? The kind of goodbye that lasts forever. 

How do you craft and create a final goodbye when it’s the last thing you want and the one thing you’re working boldly to prevent? How do you let go when all you want is to hold on? How do you gain the strength to whisper the unthinkable? How do you say goodbye?

Before I can ponder the thought any further, time has escaped and it’s now or never. No longer minutes to wonder how, only seconds left to act, to say, or do. It’s down to this, fading breaths and breaking hearts. 

So tell me, how do you say a final goodbye to someone you love?

xox, Chels

3 comments so far.

3 responses to “How Do You Say Goodbye?”

  1. missy says:

    So very true. The moments .. the last breath…
    Did I tell My husband I loved him?
    It was all so confusing and quick…

  2. Annette Hershey says:

    A few days before my mom passed, she asked me to please start writing poetry again. I had stopped writing for quite awhile. I sat bedside with my mom, and wrote this poem. I read it to her before she left us. I held her hand as she took her last breath.

    No Goodbyes
    © Annette R. Hershey

    Published: November 2016

    Oh Father, can you hear me?
    I’m sending a prayer your way,
    I’m clutching hard to my faith, as mom taught me,
    As she draws closer to you each day.

    I talk to her in whispers,
    And I hope she hears me pray,
    I hope you send an angel
    To guide her towards your way.

    I continue to tell her I love her
    And thank her for all the sacrifices she has made
    And for the unconditional love,
    No matter what kind of behavior I displayed.

    Mom, can you hear me?
    I have so much more to say.
    I will continue on with your legacy.
    I hope I can be as strong as you one day.

    You taught me the importance of family.
    I have learned from the very best.
    Don’t you worry yourself now, Mom,
    You keep yourself at rest.

    I’m sorry if I’m selfish.
    I’m not ready to let go of your hand.
    I’m trying to remember the message
    From “Footprints In The Sand.”

    Dear Mom, can you please wake up?
    I have not heard your voice today.
    I promise I would sit and listen
    To everything you want to say.

    I know you are getting weary.
    You are ready to go home.
    I imagine you are dreaming of your Savior
    Sitting upon his throne.

    I hope you take my love with you,
    As tears fall on your cheek.
    Dear God, please carry me through this,
    I’m feeling very weak.

    Dear Mom, I’m very thankful
    For all the years we’ve had.
    I’m trying to remember you laughing
    So I will not stay so very sad.

    Through the rest of my life I will carry
    All your love with me.
    I promise I will be the best mom, grandmother and person
    That I can possibly be.

    God must think your time is almost done here.
    I feel you going away,
    I love you, Mom. No goodbyes.
    I will see you again one day

  3. Valerie says:

    I had to say goodbye over the phone. The one single day I was not able to go to the hospital. Something strong prevented me; I now know it was an angel, but at the time, I also knew I would never see my mom again. I had known it the night before and tried to say goodbye, but it was difficult with a contemptuous step-father not wanting me to have time alone with my own mother, giving me hateful looks. I thought she would go in the night but she held on. I know now it was to be a full circle goodbye, in the way she and her brother had to say goodbye to my grandmother (by phone, as my uncle was battle cancer in DC) and my brother who couldn’t be at the hospital, I was prevented from going by a sudden strange ill feeling, and both of us on speaker phone, just like mom and uncle, bidding her farewell, expressing love and praying for Jesus to take her by the hand to guide her to Paradise. I don’t remember what I said. I just know she heard me as she was departing, and probably knowing it was full circle, her way.

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A wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.

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