Saying Goodbye to a Friend

Jim Kendall, LCSW

Saying Goodbye to a Friend

I had to say goodbye to my friend. Many of us have lost friends, co-workers, spouses, parents, siblings, and children. My loss was my five-year-old canine companion, Gibbs. He fought the good fight, but cancer was stronger than the chemotherapy and our hopes for miracle cures. He stopped eating, got weak, and told us that it was time to let him go. I am so very sad, but so very grateful for the years of his love. Grief and mourning is a normal part of the human experience.

“What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes part of us.”  Helen Keller

 Like those of you who have also lost loved ones, I am left with my grief and memories. I must learn new routines. I will no longer have a wagging tail to urge me to take him for a walk or to stop and inspect each pile of freshly raked leaves. I will miss him following me wherever I go and greeting me with such glee whenever I walk through the door. He will always be in my heart.

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

I will need to find new habits and a new focus that honors him by moving forward, but never forgetting him. When friends ask, I will still talk about him, be grateful for all that I learned from him, and smile as I remember.

If you are dealing with grief and loss, it may be a very difficult time for you. For some additional psychological support, VUMC faculty and staff can call Work/Life Connections-EAP at 615-936-1327 to make a confidential appointment with one of our counselors.

Other resources:

What Do I Say When Someone is Grieving?

Are You Really Doing OK?

Grieving: Never Forgotten