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'Fare Thee Well': A Mindful Approach to Saying Goodbye

by Christine DeSadeleer Mar 10, 2010
Blessing the other person at the moment of goodbye goes a long way in closing the relationship circle.

Goodbyes have always made me want to bolt out of the moment.

I’m horrible at them, feeling as if I should be feeling more than I am. Or that I should be saying something meaningful. Or at least wishing I didn’t want to hop in my car and speed away.

Of course later, I’m left with the grief of the goodbye, the pain of the ending, the overwhelming desire to get back to that moment and roll around in all of its glorious agony.

The rain falls steadily outside, and I tear up as I write, not knowing if a goodbye I just experienced moments ago is a temporary one, or one that may be more permanent. It is partially the unknown that haunts me, the fear of beauty and goodness disappearing from my life.

Goodbyes are rarely easy for any of us. So it came as no surprise that the BNT piece, 5 Golden Rules For Saying Goodbye On The Road, struck a cord with many of you since connecting with people on our trips is inevitable, and so is bidding them farewell. As author Natalie Grant noted:

The dreaded farewell is the one inevitable remainder at the end of your travel equation. Alas, such is the bittersweet lifestyle of those who are constantly in motion.

The trip of life is really no different – if you are open to incredible new people coming into your life, even when you aren’t physically in motion, you sometimes have to grapple with when and how to let them go. Sometimes I think – no, I know – there is a better way to say goodbye than my approach. Mary Jaksch in her article, Why Mindful Goodbyes Lead to a Life without Regrets, reminded me that intention goes a long way:

Antiquated goodbye formulations, such as ‘fare-well’, or the even older, ‘fare thee well’ reveal that at the heart, goodbyes are blessings. We bless the other person’s going and coming, wishing that they may be well while away…In order to make our goodbyes a blessing, all we have to do is to pay attention to the moment and create an intention of goodwill in our heart.

My mind making a bee-line for the metaphorical open road disregards this blessing, which also diminishes the possibility of closure. So my thoughts return later to that moment, thirsty for the promise of peace I didn’t allow to enter. Jaksch recommends, “When you hug stay close to the one you love for at least one complete in- and out-breath,” which pays “tender regard” to the other person.

Of course different cultures express hellos and goodbyes in their own form, but the key is to feel that heart and breath connection as you share an embrace.

The key is to feel that heart and breath connection as you share an embrace.

The truth is, none of us ever know when we may be saying our last goodbye to a loved one. Some are obvious, such as parting at a train station to take off in different directions, while others come as a shock when an accident occurs, a surprise move transpires, or an untimely death happens.

My goodbye today included the blessing of a few tears shed in the moment. I guess I’m on my way.

How do you make your goodbyes meaningful? Share your thoughts below.

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