How to say farewell and help others grow

Jun 14, 2023 | Insights

You can make a difference by helping others navigate a difficult time with interest and concern and showing the way forward.
As a young adult, life was about four weddings and a funeral (thank you, Hugh Grant and others). However, as the years go by, four funerals and a wedding have become the order of the day.

Young or old, we frequently say farewell. Only last month, it was Tina Turner. Turner was a constant in my life. I recall seeing her at London Olympia on her Private Dancer tour. Her energy and power were formidable and memorable. Tina Turner was always around on the radio and in our record collections during good times and bad times. She was simply the best, part of our lives, and her death last month is painful.

And only a few days ago, I said farewell to a beautiful group of people, many of who I met for the first time last week. We worked closely for a week in Lourdes, so splitting up to go our separate ways was difficult and sad.

And, of course, parents say farewell to their children when they leave home after investing so much love, energy, and time in raising them. So “Empty Nest Syndrome” results from saying farewell to a way of life, a job, not just the children.

But loss can also be an opportunity to use your experience and skills to help others navigate a difficult time. Here are three ways to make a difference when life is bleak for others.

Ask, listen, and don’t tell.

You know what it is like to have people pushing platitudes at you when all you want to do is talk about your loss, whether it be your long-term partner, a pet or a friend. So instead, ask questions and listen with all your heart.

Don’t start with “I am sorry…”

You probably have a letter or email after losing someone that begins with “I am sorry for your loss…”. How did you feel? Presumably indifferent at the least, and probably upset and even angry.

Why? Because your correspondent has focussed on their feelings, not yours. What do the words “I am sorry” really signify? How about “I am feeling pain because you are feeling pain, and I wish it would go away”?

Instead, you might begin by saying, “John was a wonderful person, and I found him to be so kind and fun….” 

Could you help them to let go?

In her Kindred Letter of 17 May, Susan Cain writes:

“To let your children go is the ultimate act of love, because it’s not easy, and because their very selves depend on it. That’s “nature’s give-and-take.” They can’t grow strong unless you pour love into them. They can’t grow strong unless you let them go, when the time comes.”

Yes, it may be sad and painful, but we must let go at some point. Letting go with grace and acceptance is far more affirming than clinging on and preventing growth and development.

And how did I say farewell to my friends in Lourdes? Well, very simply, “It was wonderful working with you. We made a real difference, didn’t we?”

You can make a difference by helping others navigate a difficult time with interest and concern and showing the way forward.

Photo attribution

Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash

Audio link

https://audio.com/jeremy_deedes/farewell/

Reference

Read Susan Cain's Kindred Letter here.

Take it further

Susan Cain’s Kindred Newsletters make excellent weekly reading. Subscribe to them at: https://susancain.net/newsletter/

Visit https://www.lourdes-france.org/en/ to find out more about Lourdes.

Related posts:

Two routes to greater spirituality

https://wordsnotdeeds.co.uk/greater-spirituality/

How to achieve greater spirituality by accepting a challenge and finding the faith to let go.

How to leave a legacy

https://wordsnotdeeds.co.uk/legacy/

You don't have to have a legacy as a goal in its own right. All you have to do to be remembered is to make a difference to others.

Finish what you start to build trust

https://wordsnotdeeds.co.uk/finish-what-you-start-to-build-trust/

We are often good at starting and possibly not so good at finishing, which is a pity as unfinished business destroys hard-earned trust.

There cannot be change without loss

https://wordsnotdeeds.co.uk/there-cannot-be-change-without-loss/

We must overcome the anxiety accompanying the loss of old ways with compassion and sensitivity if change is to succeed.

 

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