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I received a shocking and devastating phone call a little over two weeks ago: my cousin died. Just three days after my cousin’s passing, my students and I said goodbye to one another as the school year came to a close and commencement drew to an end. Two weeks later, I now find myself on the couch watching my guiltiest pleasure, Keeping Up With the Kardashians. I’d been so busy grading and writing my end of year comments that I missed the original airing of “About Bruce,” a chronicle of Bruce Jenner’s conversations with his family regarding his male to female transition. No longer Bruce Jenner, the former Olympian prefers to be called Caitlyn. As I watched Khloe Kardashian and Kendall Jenner struggle to say goodbye to the man the world knew as Bruce and who they personally knew as dad, I realized that these three instances, though undoubtedly incomparable, are, in fact, inextricably linked together by feelings of grief. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one to death or the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another, it’s always hard to say goodbye.
But it’s not impossible. Like the Jenner/Kardashian clan, when we lose a person or even a place that has made a significant impact on who we are and the lives we live, we worry about the impact of this change. We ask ourselves: Will life be different? Will I be able to carry on? Will I find peace and happiness? Will they? Yes, life will be different, but you will be able to carry on and find peace and happiness. I believe this to be true…I have to. I am preparing to embark on a new adventure. I’m closing this chapter of my life and starting anew, and it is terrifying. But for as much as I may lose, I know I will gain more. Whenever someone dies, it feels unbearable for a time, but eventually I remember they’re in a better place. Trite, I know, but true. Transitions are a natural part of life. Heck, nature depends on seasonal cycles to exist. Life is born in the spring and dies in the winter. People operate in the same way. In one extreme, we are born and then we die. In a lesser extreme, people are meant to be in your life for a reason and season, and once their time is up, there’s nothing more you can do than to let go. So how can you say goodbye despite the difficulty?
Be you. There is no right or wrong way to feel or grieve. You’ll have good days and bad days. Your emotions will come in waves, but don’t apologize for any of it, don’t suppress it, and don’t rush your healing. There’s no timeline and this isn’t a race. Take your time and discover an outlet. Whether it’s writing about your feelings, picking up a new hobby, or just surrounding yourself with people who love you most, figure out how you can best be supported. And most of all, trust the process. If you remember that everything happens for a reason, it will make saying goodbye a little easier.