Goodbye my love, goodbye

So much has changed since the beginning of 2020. The pandemic has disrupted our lives and relationships. We have been forced to separate ourselves from our friends to keep our family safe. Each day, we are reminded of loss. A loss of freedom and identity. A loss of purpose in life.

While the situation is difficult, most of us will get through it. But what happens when on top of this, we also lose someone dear to us? Since the risk of getting infected is high, we are unable to be with our loved ones during their final days in hospital. Every loss is important, yes, but the grieving process becomes much harder when we are not able to say goodbye.

Bereavement – A Lonely Time Beyond Measure

Each one of us reacts in a different way. The loss and pain hit us at various depth. We may become depressed or angry towards the person who has died. We may become anxious and fearful of our own mortality. Sometimes we think we are coping, but a sudden flutter and tumble in the stomach jolts us back in agony.  

When we mourn in isolation, extra layers of suffering are added. We lose an opportunity for closure. It may take us a long time to grasp what has happened and the grief may linger for years. If we cannot see the body, our mind can play tricks and subconsciously we hope that the person may still be alive somewhere.

In normal circumstances, we would be surrounded by relatives and friends supporting us through our griefs. From the wake to many days afterwards, we would not be alone. The person we are mourning may be gone but others are still here, real, solid. We forget to wallow in self-pity and allow ourselves to laugh without feeling guilty.

Be it Willingly or Unwillingly

Living in a pandemic, social isolation means no gatherings, no traditional funerals. We are plunged into a sea of fear and loneliness. Desperate to share our grief with others, for we long for their support, however at times we notice they are fearful of what to say or how to respond to our loss. They misunderstand our situation. Embarrassment appears on their face and they avoid us altogether. Should the bereaved be isolated and deprived of receiving any comfort?

Sometimes our loss is overshadowed by what else is going on in the world, because the spotlight is on other things. When Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh died, the whole country joined the Royal Family in mourning his loss. While the public was urged not to gather or leave tributes at royal residences, this request fell on deaf ears. Hundreds of mourners gathered outside Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, as if unconcerned about the pandemic. They wanted to pay their respects. They wanted to show their national sadness.

I do not claim to know why, but I guess they wanted to experience a sense of common grief, a social connection. And yet, they cannot share a friend’s fear and pain. The pain that we feel cannot be transferred from one body to another, but the mind can sympathise.

“Death” is a difficult word that feels heavy on our tongue. It means final, closure. But unimaginable as it might be, before any normality returns, it is important to grieve what has been lost. Every loss is valid, and we should acknowledge each one of them. Life has changed and along with it, so have we. Being bereaved is such a lonely time but there is no time limit to saying goodbye.

See You Later Alligator

“See ya,” “Laters,” “Hasta la vista,” are informal farewells. Whether it is temporary or permanent, not all goodbyes are enjoyable. There are no set ways to bid adieu, it depends on the type of relationship you have with that person. If the moment of separation is intense, it can cause acute emotional discomfort.

“Remember me and smile, for it’s better to forget than to remember me and cry.” – DR Seuss

There comes a time when separation happens, you feel desperate and alone. As hard as it is, you should not pretend that you do not feel pain. It does not matter how long you have known each other, whether it is a week or your whole life, each goodbye tears a piece of your heart. It is the final step to closure, the end of a chapter. You will feel empty and bare.

“The only time a goodbye is painful is when you will never say hello again.”

Sometimes you do not get the chance to say goodbye face to face. Covid-19 and social distancing have made it impossible to say a final goodbye. You can find comfort through your grief by visiting your favourite places which will bring back happy memories. You could also play music, read a poem, or plant a tree in their memory.

“We started with a simple hello but ended with a complicated goodbye.”

Relationships are on a time limit, set for a purpose, and change depending on life circumstances. When a relationship ends, whether it is a house move or a romantic break-up, the final moment stays with us. We replay unforgettable memories of the love shared and good times spent. We hold on to our past.

“If you’ve been brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” – Paulo Coelho

But not all goodbyes have to be formal and serious. If you are uncomfortable showing your emotions, you might not find the right words to say. Make it memorable by showing them the impact that they have on you. Write them a heart-felt letter, give them a hug or just wave them off with a genuine smile. Show them how you value the time spent in their company.

“When I am brave enough to say goodbye, I’ll use the wings you gave me and away I’ll fly.” – Celia McMahon

Saying goodbye to a toxic relationship should not even be debated. If you are not being valued, not being shown the same affection you have for them, then it is time to say “au revoir”. Embark on a journey of healing, open your heart to new love and opportunities. With time and patience, your broken heart will mend.

“You and I will meet again, when we’re least expecting it. One day in a far off place, I’ll recognise your face. I won’t say goodbye my friend, for you and I will meet again.” – Tom Petty

Goodbyes can be silent. Just being there with the person is enough.

So, until next time … Have a good one!