We say ‘goodbye’ with regularity to signify a farewell when parting – and to express ‘good wishes’.
We say ‘goodbye’ to our friends after gatherings, and to our family after visits. We say ‘goodbye’ to newly formed acquaintances following vacations or trips, or to our neighbors when moving to new homes. We say ‘goodbye’ to colleagues when moving on to new companies, or when leaving the office at the end of the day.
We often use ‘goodbye’ with some degree of nonchalance – and many times abbreviate it to simply ‘bye’ or ‘see you later’.
But there are many times in our lives that require greater solemnity – when we are forced to acknowledge that our lives have been irrevocably changed. Times when the words available to us sometimes seem ill-fitted for the magnitude of the moment.
I didn’t get an opportunity to say ‘goodbye’ to my younger sister, whom we lost in a car accident at the age of 17, until sitting alone with her casket in the church the night before her funeral. I had to say ‘goodbye’ to my mother, whom we lost following her 2-year battle with cancer, when sitting alone with her in the funeral home prior to her service. And I struggled to say ‘goodbye’ to my father when leaving him in his room at the Hospice prior to flying back home – hoping that I would see him again – only to have to say ‘goodbye’ again when I returned for his funeral two weeks later.
Loss serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of being mindful with our words. ‘Goodbye’ – which originates from the late 16th Century – and is a contraction of ‘God be with you’ does seem to be appropriate.
Imagine the impact to our connections and relationships if we brought the same mindfulness and awareness to the words we use.
Take a moment to acknowledge the power behind ‘goodbye’.