Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Next week my oldest grandson will be leaving for the Navy. He will serve five years active duty and two years in the reserves. Saying goodbye to him this week was so very hard to do.
Even when he earns leave time, coming home will not be the same. Because he won’t be coming home the young man he is now. The military will change him. I’m not saying that going into the Navy is a bad thing because it isn’t. I just mean that who he is as a person will change. It will have to. He is going to be thrown into situations he has no clue on how to react. But I know the real person inside of him won’t change. Those deep-down parts of him will still be there even if his overall person will be changed.
So, how do you say goodbye? I wrote him a card and a personal note to encourage him. I watched as he read my note. He read it, and that is something to note. He didn’t just push it aside because he’s been taught to value others and himself. That’s why I know that he will be okay. He’s strong on the inside and will become stronger through his experiences.
There is another kind of goodbye, though. It’s the gut-wrenching pain of losing a loved one in death. There’s no going back. There are no chances for relationship do overs. Death is final. It is here, in this grief, that we find our hearts broken as we go through the grieving process.
Though nothing can compare to the loss of a loved one, there is a third kind of loss: loss of the world as we know it. Battling emotional pain is also a gut-wrenching ordeal. And many times, there is also no going back. It becomes a time to try to find a measure of relief by focusing on the good things in our lives. When you are being attacked by an episode of PTSD, though, it seems impossible to find anything positive about our situation.
How do we move on in our life even in the face of emotional pain’s constant onslaught? Eddinscounseling.com in their article, “9 Ways to Cope with Emotional Pain (without Food, Alcohol or shopping) gives us practical guidelines for coping with emotional pain. Finding a new hobby and moving your body are top on the list. Finding something new to do can change your focus and distract you from constantly thinking about your emotional pain. Moving your body is important because if you chose to stay in bed all the time, not only will it prevent you from healing from your emotional pain, it will affect you physically also. Another idea that’s on the top of my list is don’t ruminate. Don’t constantly rehash what happened. You’ll never move forward if you stay stuck in the past. Easier said than done sometimes. The last one I will share is stop telling the story. It’s easy to find a listening ear who is willing to listen to you. But if all you do in conversations with friends is tell your story over and over, you may find that your friends start distancing themselves from you. You can let them know that you’re still struggling without having to have the same conversation over and over.
Saying goodbye whether it’s to a relationship, the loss of a loved one or the loss of an area of our lives can be so very hard to do, but it’s possible to do so. Refrain from going over things in the past and imagine the good things that can happen in your future like the Bible verse above speaks of. God’s plans are for our good. There still may be struggle ahead, but you never have to face that struggle alone. God is never going to say goodbye to a relationship with him. He is always available to listen to and will bring you the hope you need just when you need it.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.