Saying goodbye to someone you love is really hard. I remember in eighth grade my best friend in the world moved away and I cried for months. I remember when I returned to work after each of the kids was born it was hard to leave. When my grandma died, I held her hand and whispered in her ear and we comforted each other as she slipped away.
This week my close friend had to say goodbye to her dad. He died peacefully and painlessly after a massive stroke but that didn’t make saying goodbye any easier. She had been caring for her dad for years (her mother died when she was a teenager) and over the last couple of years his health had deteriorated. Sure there were days when her dad was a pain in the neck and days when she wished she didn’t have to make elaborate arrangements to go on vacation, but more days than not, her dad was source of security and love in her life. And she had to say goodbye to him. Forever.
Saying goodbye and mourning the loss of a parent is a solitary process. Friends can cry with you and feed you and run errands for you and reminisce with you but the grieving and longing and missing are yours alone. Like most hard things in life it is messy and full of conflicted emotions and like most hard things in life, when you come out the other side of it all you are changed, stronger and more vulnerable at the same time. You cannot lose a parent and not revisit the good and bad of that relationship. You cannot lose a parent and not wish something had been done differently, something said or not said. You cannot lose a parent and not long for just one more good day together.
So this week, call your mom or dad or brother or sister or best friend or spouse or ex-spouse and tell them something good, something you want to them to remember when one of you says goodbye.
Love unconditionally, share yourself fearlessly, and speak honestly and each day will be your best.
Molly O’Shea, MD Birmingham Pediatrics + Wellness Center