Saying Thank You and Saying Goodbye
It can be challenging for us to say thank you and to say goodbye.
I attended a memorial service last weekend. The service was not for a close friend or a member of my family. I knew him because he was the father of my wife’s closest lifelong friend and my father-in-law’s best friend.
His service reminded me of the ways he had shaped my life. Even though we had neither spent a lot of time together nor had many deep conversations, he made a difference in me.
Much of the way he related to me was indirect, through other people. His memorial service helped me remember how other people shape me by shaping people I know.
I was sad when he died. He lived a long and full life. Listening at his memorial service reminded me of the invisible strands of life which connected us.
Many of us do not often reflect on the people and places for which we are grateful. It is easy for us to slide away, not taking time to say thank you and to say goodbye.
Some of us are afraid saying goodbye will be too painful. Others of us are oblivious to how the lives of other people affect us.
When we turn around we find ourselves alone, having lost the opportunity to say thank you and to say goodbye.
Saying thank you and saying goodbye can be inconvenient and painful. It takes us time and effort to remember and appreciate the people and experiences which have shaped us.
This week is an opportunity for us to remember and reflect. Each of us has time this week to say thank you and goodbye to the people whose lives have shaped ours.
When can we say thank you and goodbye this week?
How We Say Thank You and Goodbye
We and the world around us are filled with possibility and opportunity. There are still times when life becomes difficult. Sometimes we feel discouraged and get tired of trying.
Spiritual life surrounds us and pours itself into our hearts every day. Sometimes things take too long for us and sometimes we feel afraid. We still get frustrated.
Each of us is becoming the person we are meant to be. We are learning and growing into our potential. There are still times when we feel foolish, when we wonder why we are the way we are.
I believe I am doing what is best for me and my relationship to my true self is growing deeper and more intimate. There are still times when I wonder how things can possibly work, if I will ever know what to do, whether there will ever be less pain and disappointment.
We learn by trying and making mistakes. Practice is how we gain the strength and abilities to continue. We do not fail until we stop trying. There are still times when we doubt we will ever succeed, when we feel like failures, when we think about quitting.
Our lives are full of people to whom, and for whom, we say thank you and goodbye. Whether or not we ever tell them in so many words, our actions now speak for us.
We remember when someone was kind to us and we practice kindness. When we recall how someone understood us we remember to have empathy for others.
Spiritual life helps us experience love and share it with each other. We say thank you and goodbye when we show love to other people.
When We Say Thank You and Goodbye
Some of us have our days and weeks sorted out and focused on our goals and priorities. Our calendars are coded by color to help us remember when we will do what.
We are skilled at finding time to meet the urgent demands on us. Many of us are less able to fit time for important, though less urgent, demands into our schedules.
It is easy for us to forget to say thank you and goodbye. We are not paying attention to what it costs us to forget.
Many of us miss the people who have shaped our lives but other things push them out of our minds. We are not aware of the people who shaped the people who shape us. Our days are filled with more urgent things to consider.
The best time for us to say thank you and goodbye is when we remember.
I know people whose loss is so recent and so painful they do not remember anything else. Saying thank you and goodbye is at the front of their brains.
Others of us need to take time, like this week, to remember and pay attention.
Why We Say Thank You and Goodbye
Our lives are filled with challenging situations. We need to discern truths and make decisions before we believe we are ready. When we watch the people around us the way they live their lives shapes how we live ours.
Spiritual life shows us how we can learn from the people around us.
We owe spiritual life and the people who shape us a debt of gratitude. It means something to us when we are able to show people what we have learned from them. Saying thank you and goodbye tells people we see them and appreciate their example.
When we say thank you and goodbye we tell people they have made a positive difference. We tell them we appreciate what they have shown us and we miss being around them.
Each day, each moment, is an opportunity for us to learn from other people and follow their example. Saying thank you and goodbye helps us continue to learn from them.
Other people shape our lives by their examples. We say thank you and goodbye.
When will we take time to say thank you and goodbye today?
How are we saying thank you and goodbye this week?
[Image by cathy_baird]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.