Do you say goodbye well?

Expats have to say goodbye quite a bit – so we think we are pretty good at it.

I have found that saying goodbye well takes purpose, intent and discipline.

During my first few years abroad I remember daydreaming very much about family and friends at home, and sometimes even almost obsessively dreaming about the day I would see everyone again at the airport. When I look back on those times, I can imagine that I was often “absent” in relationship to my new surroundings because my mind was somewhere else.

I had not said goodbye very well.

“Saying goodbye is a ritual that marks a coming separation. The function of most rituals is to mark liminal, that is, transitional times. A goodbye marks the moment where being together begins to move into being apart. As human beings, we tend to differentiate between ‘big’ goodbyes that may be forever, and the ‘small’ goodbyes of everyday. Both those goodbyes have a hidden component: they contain a blessing.
Antiquated goodbye formulations, such as ‘fare-well’, or the even older, ‘fare thee well’ reveal that at the heart, goodbyes are blessings. We bless the other person’s going and coming, wishing that they may be well while away.
In order to make our goodbyes a blessing, all we have to do is to pay attention to the moment and create an intention of goodwill in our heart. There is no need to let the other person know about the blessing.”
(Mary Jaksch: Why Mindful Goodbyes lead to a Life without Regrets)

Tina Quick, from International Family Transitions, is a cross-cultural trainer and international speaker.
She wrote one of the most influential books on third culture kids and transition, The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition (here at Amazon).

Tina uses the RAFT acronym (and analogy) to help us say goodbye intentionally:

Think Destination

When you intentionally build this RAFT as you say goodbye, you walk through steps that will help you ‘make your goodbyes a blessing’ as Mary Jaksch put it.

In 2011 my wife and I repatriated to the United States after several decades of expat life. We built this RAFT very intentionally (but not perfectly), and it amazed us how this enabled us to make a healthy transition.

Walt Whitman puts it beautifully also in his poem Song for the Open Road:

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.

(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)

Are your goodbyes ‘delicious burdens’?

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