The Goodbyes That We Could Not Make

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When in March there was talk of an unknown virus that they suffered in China, we could not even begin to imagine what was to come. Nobody expected the time that we would have to separate from our life. We were not aware of what we were losing. If it had been so, we would have said goodbye. We would have said goodbye to our co-workers, those in the gym, the bartender at the corner bar, our routines, the outdoors ... the life we knew.

Why do we say goodbye?

Human beings need to be able to say goodbye with words to people, situations, things ... It is somehow a need to put words to an intense emotion, and as with all intense emotions, putting words to it makes them more manageable. That is why we need, in the face of something as important as losses, that there really exists that feeling of having closed a stage, of finishing something, in order to feel somewhat more comforted. Goodbyes help us move to a different stage in our lives.

There are even studies that indicate that, when someone goes to study abroad, having had a proper farewell was an enabler for the experience abroad to be profitable and enjoyable…

What if we don't say goodbye?

If we do not manage to say goodbye to losses that we may suffer, it is possible that our feelings towards them are that they have not been resolved, that we have not yet made effective the separation of what we had before. We can get caught in a strange mourning where we can't stop thinking about what could have been. We can even maintain feelings of anger, confusion or guilt in an already ineffective way.

Even more confusing, we may experience a feeling that it did not really exist. If a person we know disappears without saying goodbye, it can give rise to a feeling of strangeness in the relationship, causing us an idea, which although we recognize as false, we cannot help feeling that perhaps that relationship never existed.

Farewells, whether more or less formal, allow us to make sense of the experiences that we have lived and stopped living. If they are no longer present, they must have gone through the dismissal process for us to continue.

The unusual farewell caused by COVID-19.

In March, when our life changed in so many ways forever, there was no party with elements that indicated that we would not return to work or classes as we knew them. We did not give the usual waiter a hug and said "cheer up, I don't know when we'll see each other but it has been a pleasure having coffee at your bar." Instead, we locked ourselves at home, unable to have contact with anyone, not knowing how long we would be there and how our lives would change afterward. We could not say goodbye not only to a significant number of people, but to our plans, expectations, to what made us feel at peace, to the feeling of security about our own health ... There are so many things that disappeared there and so few of the that we have been able to say goodbye properly ...
Of all the losses that we have been able to suffer, one of the most significant is that which occurs if someone has died during the period of confinement.

We already wrote an entry in this blog about what to do when a loved one is lost in confinement. In addition, researchers Burrell and Selman published a literature review article (Burrell & Selman, 2020) in July in which they strongly recommend achieving meaningful funeral practices in the event of a loss of a loved one. Missing funeral practices in the event of a death can make the grieving process difficult, deteriorate mental health and achieve less resilience after the death in question. This article highlights the importance of carrying out these funeral rites in such a way that they are useful for people who have suffered the loss to express negative emotions, as well as a space for meaningful connection, although it may not occur regularly, or face-to-face. and how you getout from this mental health situation by using the blue ridge wilderness therapy program.

In fact, associated with these difficulties to carry out the daily and extraordinary rituals due to the pandemic, we can also observe, as described in another article that people tend to reinvent the things that we already we did before. Reading this article, you can see how we have been able, on many occasions, to create a new field of rites and celebrations, with great online participation, or with different ways of expressing what is needed at birthdays, weddings, graduations or funerals. By achieving this despite the difficulties present by COVID-19, we managed to give the usual meaning to the usual rites with new manifestations of them.

Seeing this, and knowing that the pandemic, for the moment, is going to be part of our lives, it may be necessary for us to rethink what we are failing to do for COVID. Do we want to stop celebrating the passing rituals that continue to occur in our lives? Possibly the best thing we can do is invent, with a little creativity, a new way of expressing what we are letting go of, saying goodbye to the life we had before, and moving on with our lives.

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