When Saying Goodbye is Hard

Goodbyes are not really my thing. Particularly when they are separating me for a period of time from someone I love. They seem to get harder as I get older. Harder as I leave my aging parents a state away. Harder as I prepare to leave two daughters at a college two states away. Harder as one daughter digs in Israel and the other prepares for a two-week backpacking trip before her freshmen year of college.

There was a time in my teens, 20s, and 30s when I said goodbye with a quick kiss, hug and wave. No tears were shed and I did not linger because I had already left that place and those people in my head and had moved on to what was coming next. I was in such a hurry all the time that I often missed being present in the current moment.

At 49 that is no longer the way I say goodbye to a loved one. Now I feel the weight of time and try, unsuccessfully, to slow it down. To stretch it out. To make every 24 hours feel as if it were really 48. I linger over long hugs and need to say, “I love you,” more than once. And I am rarely able to stop the tears when parting from a loved one thanks to menopause.

The Bible does not have a lot to say about saying goodbye. We read about people saying it – David to Jonathon, Naomi to Orpah, Paul to Timothy – but we do not really get much of a back story. Scripture does, however, give us a lot of benedictions (a short blessing with which to end time spent together).

Consider praying one of these verses over a loved one as you go your separate ways:

Numbers 6:24-26 – May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; may the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

2 Corinthians 13:14 – May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 – Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you.

2 Peter 3:18 – May you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be both power and glory both now and forever. Amen.

I aIso find the following ideas can make it easier for you to say goodbye to those you hold near and dear. Set a date for the next time you will see each other. Schedule a time for regular FaceTime or Skype conversations. Put pen to paper the old-fashioned way – it really does help bridge the distance. Text or email photos on a regular basis – visuals can make the miles melt. And finally trust that God loves our loved ones more than we can possibly imagine.

Precious Father – thank you for our loved ones. Please help us to be present each time we are together. Strengthen us when we are apart. And help us to rest easy knowing that you have written our loved ones on the palm of your hand, numbered the hair on their heads and knew them before they were even born. Amen.