Saying Goodbye

Andy was standing in the dark, staring into space.

His son walked up beside him and draped an arm on his shoulder. “Do you remember when she first got sick?” he asked. “You took Britney and me to breakfast and laid a speech on us.”

“I did?”

“Yeah, you did. You told us that we weren’t the one who was sick and that you didn’t want to see any self-pity. You told us to stay strong and live well because that’s what Mom would want us to do.”

Andy nodded, vaguely remembering.

“Mom’s cancer isn’t your fault, Dad. It isn’t anybody’s fault. I’ve been doing some research—268,000 women in the U.S. will have breast cancer this year.”

“You’ve been researching it? What are the survival numbers? How long is she going to be with us?”

“The numbers aren’t good,” he said. “Ninety percent of the women who are diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer die within five years.”

“She’ll be in the ten percent who survive,” Andy said.

“I hope you’re right. You know I hope you’re right. But there’s one thing I want you to keep in mind, Dad. There’s a chance she’ll still be with us for five years. That’s over 1,800 days and nights. She would want us to make the best of every one of them. She may not be here that long—or she may be here longer. But she wouldn’t want us to sit around being sad; she would want us to keep living like we always have, working and playing and loving and laughing.”

♦ ♦ ♦

Sooner or later, we all have to face it.

There will come a time when you have to say “Goodbye.”

What happens when that time comes?

You grieve.

In your own way and at your own pace.

You have every right to the devastation you feel. It was a special, custom-made, relationship—there’s never been another exactly like it. So the pain of your loss is yours alone to deal with. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and no set time limit on the process.

After the funeral, it’s time for life to get back to normal, right? Wrong! There is no “normal” when it comes to dealing with loss. No two people grieve the same way because no two people—and no two relationships—are the same.

At some point, someone will tell you it’s time to get over it. You’ll never get over it—but you’ll get through it. The old saying, “Time heals all wounds” isn’t entirely accurate. But it’s not entirely inaccurate either. The wound, in time, will heal, but the scar will remain.

Well-meaning people will tell you what you should and shouldn’t feel; what you should and shouldn’t do. If what they say hurts, ignore them. The same goes for this article. I don’t know the level of your pain; so if there are words on this page that bump a sore spot, drop it in the dumpster.

Allow yourself to miss your loved one—they deserve to be remembered and deserve to be missed. It’s your way of saying, “Thank you for having been in my life—it is so much better because you were in it.”

And then, when you can, live like your loved-and-lost-one would want you to.

You are blessed to have had a person in your life that makes saying goodbye so hard: blessed that you lived a life worthy of their love and they a life worthy of yours.

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