Letter to the Last Goodbye

December 8, 2016

Saying the last goodbye or ending a stage that was important is always rather difficult. Even more so now that we live in a society where we deny death, dodge it, avoid it, and try not to come across it in any way possible. But at the end of the day, reality hits us in the face and we inevitably run into it at some point in our lives. Denying death is not a good strategy because it implies giving ourselves the wrong idea of our existence.

We believe that we are immortal and that illnesses, accidents, and all those things happen to others but not to us and obviously that is not how things are. We will all end up getting old, getting sick in some way or another, and dying when all is said and done.

We once had a much more tolerant mentality concerning death. We were able to handle the goodbyes and the mourning in a much healthier way than we do today. Which does not mean that it was a pleasant experience, but it was something that formed a part of life. Let’s say that it is was more accepted as the price for having been lucky enough to know this world.

What decides if mourning is healthy or not?

Mourning is a necessary process to be able to get over a loss. We are not just talking about losses of people, but also other kinds, for example, losing a job, health, or a partner. In this sense, sadness, as a healthy emotion, must play the role of the protagonist; it helps us process what has happened, to drain that wound on our soul, so that after enough time has passed, normally between six months and a year, we can go back to our lives in a normal way.

Woman Crying Onto Shoulder

Sometimes, we do not mourn in a proper way and we get stuck in one of its stages. It is worth mentioning that there are various stages of mourning (denial, rage, blame, acceptance…) and we may or may not go through all of them. It depends on each individual.

Mourning in a healthy or unhealthy way will depend on what we tell ourselves about death or the loss that has taken place, about everything. But it will also depend on how we face our new life and act without what is now gone.

Writing a letter

In therapy, we use many techniques that are based both on our emotions and on our thoughts and behaviors to improve and progress in mourning processes. One of these techniques is writing a letter to say goodbye. It may be addressed to a person who died, a job that we have lost, a partner, our own health, or anything that we personally feel to be a significant loss.

Writing a letter is, at the end of the day, an explanatory technique whose goal is to reduce the intensity of our emotions little by little so that, at the end, we will feel a healthy nostalgia, but not an unhealthy depression, rage, anxiety, or guilt.

This is very important because there are emotions, like sadness, that are our allies and help us to assimilate what is happening to make use of our resources and undertake a solution as much as possible.

But others, however, stop us, block us, and keep us from dealing with the situation. Far from solving it or putting what happened into perspective, they cause us an overly intense discomfort that does not let us think or act clearly and in our own benefit.

How do we say goodbye?

How do we write to something or someone who is no longer there? How do we say goodbye? What is it that we must do? Take paper and a pencil and imagine that what you have lost is still there, in our psychological reality, even though it is not there in physical reality.

Start by greeting them, telling them how you are since they left and end by expressing your gratitude for all the time they were there. They are no longer with you and that is sad, but it was also great to have been lucky enough to once be in contact with them. You enjoyed it, you took advantage of it, and as with everything in life, it has run its course and come to an end.

Woman Writing

That stage is over, that is the reality of the situation, but no less real is the fact that there are people who have never even been able to enjoy what you once had in your life. As such, the letter must end on a positive note, thankful, with an attitude of appreciation, being aware that in this life, everything is finite, but at the end of the day, saying goodbye to what has gone and will not come back.

As you go on practicing this explanation and stop avoiding all things concerned with loss, your emotions will stop being so intense, so frequent, and so long-lasting, and your ability to face these situations will improve considerably. You will have adapted to the real situation, you will have accepted and tolerated it calmly, although you will always remember it with affection and a small dose of nostalgia.