Rituals For Saying Goodbye


The collective grief is palpable. It is like an unwelcome relative who shows up for every holiday but now never leaves. The human spirit is about not only surviving but thriving, yet even the most evolved know that holding hard truths and hope at the same time is the spiritual equivalent of sand running through your fingers. We are living in a time of goodbyes from losing a loved one to a job to ever wearing heels again to possibly a home. I dream of simply being held.

Love and loss in the time of corona embraces the unembraceable. Our emotions are masked, gloved, and separated by at least six feet.

Many of our normal rituals for saying goodbye have been stripped away as a safety measure. This ranges from the heartbreak of not being able to say goodbye at a death bed in a hospital to a kiss on the cheek after a latte. Can we learn to be more careful with our words to each other, knowing that they may be our last?

Maybe you are mourning the relationship you wish you had with a partner or child or parent. In all this stressed togetherness, people are discovering what the true quality is of their relationships. Some have risen to the challenge, showing caring, compassion, emotional honesty, and resilience to be a good quarantine mate. For other relationships, the stress fracture has turned into a broken bone, and while you might have been able to emotionally limp through a busy and distracted life, the truth is that you now cannot even walk.

For those in isolation, there can be the mourning for what they don’t have. Maybe if they had said goodbye to their fear of commitment and surety something better is just around the corner, they might not find themselves alone. Tinder is not so much fun in a pandemic.

And what happens when we look inside ourselves? What if we thought about saying goodbye to that which does not serve us? Is there the courage, honesty, and will to delve into that personal realm? We are living with our real hair color, unpainted nails, makeup-free faces and five o’clock shadow. We are unadorned. Armor may protect our vulnerable parts, but it also traps them inside.

Can we show up to ourselves to create a ritual for saying goodbye?

Sit in a quiet place and light a white candle and focus. Sprinkle some salt water around you in a circle for protection. Be sure to tell your inner critic or that judgmental voice that they are not welcome here. Invite in positive energy from whatever source has meaning to you. Imagine your best self and your best life. What has not served you to reach that goal? Can you say goodbye to it, whether it be a relationship or an addiction or a distraction or a self-belief? Imagine tossing it into the ocean and seeing it be carried away in the waves. Can you hold the hope and the fear of what this will mean like the grains of sand in your hand? There is no business as usual anyway.

Sometimes when the world is shifting, the greatest time for change is when you sit still.

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