I've had to say goodbye a lot recently. Some goodbyes have been personal, some have been professional. Some came through unexpected death, some as a result of new opportunities. Some goodbyes were accompanied by tears, some with laughter and fond memories. As painful, and at times awkward, as these goodbyes have been, I have also experienced a profound richness in honoring relationships that have come to an end.
Each goodbye has been unique just as each relationship is unique. For some, a discussion of good memories, advice and blessings are in order. For others, a nod and warm smile is sufficient and communicates just as much. Some goodbyes are accompanied by ceremonies. Some goodbyes are so subtle that only those saying goodbye realize they have occurred.
In reflecting on all of these goodbyes, I was hoping to gain some deeper awareness of what makes a goodbye special, but I came up empty. I have no deep wisdom to impart but what I have learned is this: as clumsy and uncomfortable as goodbyes can be, I am grateful for them. Saying goodbye has reminded me that a relationship is not defined by the goodbye but by everything that came before it. However you say goodbye, may you be reminded of, and be grateful for, the relationship that makes saying goodbye worthwhile. I think that is what makes a goodbye good.