This Is Why It’s Important To Say Goodbye………By Dr Linda Berman.


  • Why Do We Need To Say Goodbye?

leave-taking-max-beckmannLeave-Taking. Max Beckmann. 1942. Wikimedia Commons.

“It’s not the endings that will haunt you
But the space where they should lie,
The things that simply faded
Without one final wave goodbye.”

Erin Hanson

Many people may avoid saying goodbye because it can feel difficult and painful.

Taking leave of special people in our lives, for whatever reason, can also revivify the past pain of loss from earlier in life, making goodbyes even harder in the present.

imageFarewell. August Macke. 1914. Wikimedia Commons.

“I was trying to feel some kind of good-bye. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-bye or a bad good-bye, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t you feel even worse.”

 J.D. Salinger.

Leaving without saying goodbye can mean that we feel unresolved and unable to have a sense of closure.

We may experience all kind of feelings in relation to this; perhaps we might be left guilty, regretful, grief-stricken, sad, angry or remorseful. There will most likely be a sense of things being unfinished.

51283724552_376054d15f_oJohn William Godward – Far Away Thoughts [1892]

“Sadly enough, the most painful goodbyes are the ones that are left unsaid and never explained.”

Jonathan Harnisch

  • How Does Saying Goodbye Help?

NOR Avskjeden, ENG The FarewellHarriet Backer – The Farewell [1878] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“I don’t know how you say good-bye to whom and what you love. I don’t know a painless way to do it, don’t know the words to capture a heart so full and a longing so intense.”

 Laura Wise

Properly taking our leave of someone gives us an opportunity to express feelings, to say what the person has meant to us, to mark our leave-taking as a memorable event worthy of both recognition and conclusion.

imageClaude Monet. Parliament at Sunset.

“Sunsets are proof that endings can often be beautiful too.”

Beau Taplin

Without an appropriate and healthy farewell, it can be hard to move on and get on with our lives, if the relationship has been important to us.

Letting go of the relationship with some people is often inevitable, as we and they go forward in life, through different phases and ages.

“There is a time for departure even when there’s no certain place to go.”

Tennessee Williams
Facing the feelings involved can be a powerful and learning experience, helping us to understand both our own reactions to a parting of the ways, and those of others.

This is especially true in terms of endings in psychotherapy. These need to be planned ahead and sensitively prepared for, as the ending process in therapy can revivify all kinds of important feelings about leavings and loss.

‘Termination is more than an act signifying the end of therapy; it is an integral part of the process of therapy and, if properly understood and managed, may be an important factor in the instigation of change.’


  • Saying Goodbye To The Bad Experiences In Our Lives.

farewell-3258939_1920“They parted at last with mutual civility, and possibly a mutual desire of never meeting again.”

 Jane Austen

Sometimes, saying goodbye feels like a big relief. How pleased would we be to get Covid under control ….. and to be able to say ‘good riddance’ to everything associated with it.

There may also be people in our lives who feel toxic, crazy-making and unhealthy when we interact with them.

Perhaps they manipulate or bully, tell lies, abuse or try to get their own needs met at the expense of others’ feelings and personal freedoms.

29570593788_7aa4079fa7_oSami Aboul Azm – Departure [2009] Oil on Canvas. Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“Some goodbyes are not ends but releases.”
Beau Taplin

Whatever they may have done, it sometimes feels important to let go of people who make us feel unappreciated, restricted or unhappy.

Such goodbyes, in addition, make more room for the good, more healthy relationships in our lives, so that we can move on.

  • ‘Sweet Sorrow:’ Ambivalent Feelings.

29276773282_68d8916eae_oWilliam Rothenstein 1872-1945. Parting at Morning. 1891. Tate Britain.Flickr.

“Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.”

William Shakespeare

Most goodbyes involve a mixture of feelings and we may experience confusion and discomfort as we try to manage these.

However intense our goodbyes may be, however much we express ourselves to the other person, the feelings involved can be almost overwhelming.

Whilst we may be happy to move on, or pleased for other people as they travel on through their lives, we can also feel a longing to still have them near and keep them close.

There may be times when we realise, too late, that we did actually have strong feelings for the lost person, which we may not have acknowledged or recognised at the time.

“Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love.”

George Eliot

Even if the relationship has not been good, there can be aspects of a person that we may miss when they are gone from us.

  • Grieving And The Difficulty of Saying Goodbye When Someone Dies.

17055025218_f774efa9e3_oJean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres – Francis I Receives the Last Breath of Leonardo da Vinci [1818] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“And again and again fell the word, like the ebb of a dying sea.


E.M. Forster

How difficult it is when we passionately do not want to say goodbye, but have no choice……it may be so painful to accept another’s death, hard to utter that final goodbye.

The life we have known may feel as if it has stopped forever. Yet the world keeps on turning, despite our loss……

48889549911_f617c28fb5_oPaula Rego – The Dance [1988]Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“But my world fell apart, and all they could do, the whole universe, was to silently move on.”

Khadija Rupa

When we lose someone we have loved deeply, it can feel as if we remain in the midst of an awful dream-world, as we experience the shock of their death.

We may feel static and immobilised by grief, almost stunned that the rest of the world carries on the dance of life around us.

Often, at this stage, there can be a kind of incredulity that life continues, as if nothing has happened, yet for us the world has changed irrevocably.

imageThe Persistence of Memory. Salvador Dali. Wikimedia Commons.

‘Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone’

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

 W H Auden

  • Memories.

In the years after a sad, or a beautiful goodbye, we will still have our memories.

Once we have begun the often lengthy process of working through our grief, precious memories of special moments will gradually emerge, to strengthen us and remain in our hearts forever.

49759677276_d4ed463054_oLawrence Alma-Tadema – Spring Flowers [1911]Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“How shall I remember thee? As a drop of eternal summer, or a blossom of tender spring? As a spark of autumn’s stirring fire, or perhaps as the frost of winter’s longest night? No, it shall not be as one of these, for these shall all come to pass, and you and I, though parted by sea and earth, will never fade.”

Rebecca Ross

©Linda Berman.

Before we say goodbye for this week, please could I ask you to become a follower of my blog? Press the follow button, usually bottom right of your screen. Thank you and goodbye till next Tuesday! Linda.x


  1. Oh Linda, on reading this post I see so much of myself. Recent lack of goodbyes in March 2000 when prematurely leaving The Gambia before flights back to the u.k stopped and the Covid 19 virus hit The Gambia.
    Lack of goodbyes somehow at late father’s death in January 1975 when I was 19 years and more recently in 2005 when mum died.
    Thank you for allowing me that reflection.
    Hope you are well.

    Liked by 1 person

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