Saturday, October 3, 2009

Saying Goodbye

This is hard for me. I tend to want to hold on. I like to keep old friends, relatives and loved ones close. Sometimes we don't get a chance to say good-bye like when someone we love dies especailly if the death is sudden and unexpected. This can be a great source of pain, dreams and re-living of the last encounter with that person over-and over. It is particularily painful if the last contact was in anger or ended without resolution. My mother often told me to never go to bed angry or leave without saying I LOVE YOU. But when this doesn't happen it complicated the grieving process.

Saying goodbye after the fact is harder but can be done. The most effective way is by writing a letter and saying now what you would have liked to say then. It is more powerful if you read the letter out loud to another person you trust. A therapist is best because she/he can help you work through any remaining unresolved grief.

There are other effective rituals, for saying goodbye like releasing a helium filled baloon to the sky. You can put a message inside or tie something to the string. It is powerful for a family to do this together. Going to the grave site or where the ashes are held or released and bringing flowers. or even having a picnic can be healing.

Be creative. I worked with a ten-year-old boy whose parents were divorced and his father was killed in an automobile crash. He was depressed, doing badly in school, and having nightmares. He felt abandoned and hurt because he didn't get a chance to say goodbye. I suggested he make a cross for his fathers grave. His step-father helped him, he did it with great love and even painted it white. When it was ready, and he was ready we took it to the cemetery his mother and step -father joined us. He put it on his fathers grave, said goodbye and we had lemonade and cookies to celebrate his love for and release of his father.

More information in my book Letting Go With Love: The Grieving Process

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