Saying, Goodbye

Whilst having to deal with probate of a deceased friend, I became aware that I had become aware of a lot more deaths recently than I had been for some time. My own recent ill heath reminded me of the possibility that I am only human.

So how do you say ‘Goodbye’?

As I considered this more carefully the word began to take on a more formal aspect. For example, the insurance man completing his business and saying ‘Goodbye’. I’m sure there are other examples where the use of the word Goodbye is part of the informality of business. There is no notion or expectation other than both parties goe their separate ways.

Yet the reality seems to be that we avoid this word, it’s a kind of taboo word; so much easier to say, See you later, Ciao, Cheerio, Bye bye, I’ll ring you, We must share emails and keep in touch, Catch you, Ring me, I will touch base soonest. Why do we do this?

Are we seeking to retain some hopeful link and if so why?

Why is saying Goodbye such a difficult thing to do. Yes of course we see the finality of death when we attend funerals, where there is no hope of ever seeing that person again. It seems that we may wish to cling onto something that is profoundly human, and to say ‘Goodbye’, is such a dramatic cutting off from the last strand that makes us human, life itself. Life itself has a fragility about it because we all live with the conclusion of the truth that we are finite. Goodbye, I am moving away from you, I will not be in touch; I will not be reached by you. Goodbye.

I wonder if Jesus’ humanity stopped him saying, Goodbye. It seems to me that he did everything in his power to avoid saying it. There are enough references to alert us to the fact that he told those around him to wait, he would be back. Maybe, Goodbye, was irrelevant? The offer he was making was for a radically new life and he would confirm this with evidence and proof by returning from death and demolishing Goodbye forever. This changes things, because by not saying a formal ‘Goodbye’, the word itself had lost its meaning. The prospect of being forever separated is lost.
Maybe Jesus really was saying, ‘See you later.’

Of course some situations are too painful for anything other than retaining some prospect of reunion. Hope and faith provide the promise of reunion, unless the words of Jesus have had no impact on life and then Goodbye really does take on finality.

Image Credit: Jan Tinneberg