Man sitting with dog on dock

Guest Blog: Six Steps to Survive the Dreaded Goodbye

Blogger Biography: Pam is patriotic at heart, through and through. She has been an Army spouse for 20-plus years and is a mother of three, including a child with special needs. Having two of her children now college age and one still in middle school, she has found time to give back to other military spouses. Other personal favorites are cooking, crafting and football. She is usually considered the biggest cheerleader in her family, encouraging her husband and kids to always be the best they can be.


Goodbyes are extremely hard. I don’t care if your goodbye is for a soldier going off to war, a child going off to college, a friend moving, a husband traveling for a few days or if you have lost a dear person in your life. Goodbyes, whether short-term or long-term, are just painful. I say this because as I go through my day-to-day life, I realize that I deeply avoid goodbyes. I actually LOVE to say, “Till we see each other again!” Many times I have found myself knee deep in the river of DENIAL! Meaning I really don’t even want to think about the goodbye that is coming or that just happened. For me that is the best coping skill. And one that I believe truly and emotionally lets me survive the goodbyes time and time again.

You see I am a military wife of 20-plus years. I have college age kids. And I move away from friends (or they move away from me) almost yearly! I haven’t lived in my home state with family for at least the last 20 years.  So I find myself with a goodbye to give every time I turn around. And no matter how seasoned you are, they don’t get easier. BUT with all that said, I do truly believe that we can survive them without losing our minds. And here is my wisdom for how I manage. (Let me just say, I do not believe I have it all figured out; I just have survived. I am sure that a therapist somewhere would tell me that I have issues. I am sharing this in hopes that others see an easier way to survive or just know that they are normal! Oh that dreaded word “normal” [sigh]…that is for another blog!)

A man and a woman hugging

1. Live in the moment. I find that whether it is a normal day, a day of a goodbye or even a sad day after a goodbye, I try everything possible to enjoy the here and now. There is always something positive in every single day; I challenge you to find that positive. It can be as simple as being healthy and alive. If we dwell in the negative, life would never seem worth living. Which leads me to…

2. Be positive. The cup is always half full in my mind. I know being positive can be hard at times, but I believe that it is a choice we make. Choose to be positive and find the positive in every situation, even if you have to deny what tomorrow may bring.  Remember—live in the moment!

3. Denial. Yes I said it. The best way for ME to get through a goodbye is to treat it like it is any other day. The less of a big event I make it, the less of an impact it has on my emotional well-being. Plus the goodbye isn’t the memory I want to take with me. I want to remember happy times in my life, and the less dramatic the goodbyes are, the less memorable they are!!! (OK, confession…I went looking for “goodbye” type photos for dramatic impact for this topic and couldn’t find any because goodbyes are not the days in my life that I choose to make memories of.  The heart-wrenching photos you see in today’s blog are actually from very emotional “Welcome Homes,” which can be just as emotional, but definitely more memorable for me!)

Two men hugging

4. Camaraderie. Find a battle buddy to lean on to get through those tougher days. Sometimes it is finding the person who will say “Wow today sucks, let’s go have fun!” Or the person to whom you can share the emotions you are feeling, just to get them out. But just like with any negative situation, don’t dwell on it. “Woe is me” dwelling can keep you in the emotional loop you really don’t want to be in. Many times it is just having someone near who understands, knows it isn’t a great day for you and can still make you smile or laugh. We all need that shoulder to cry on. I just caution you to choose your battle buddy well. I have amazing battle buddies. They not only pick me up, but they also kick me in the tail sometimes, which we all need.

5. Accept change. Life is ever changing. We all have seasons in our lives; accept the phase you are currently in. Make the best of it and drive on. The biggest and scariest time in my life when I had to accept change was when my husband was deployed for a year, and halfway through that year, my daughter went to college 800 miles away from home as a freshman. The two rocks in my life were away. It was time to accept the change and drive forward.  Although neither was gone indefinitely, in the moment, it felt like it. I had to embrace that it would be a tough few months and find other rocks to lean on. My family grew and I not only became stronger, but also became even closer with some of my other battle buddies who helped me survive. I chose to find the positive and be better for it. You can too.

6. Last but not least… Look to the future. If the moment stinks, look up and find a place to strive for that won’t. And then set goals to make yourself stronger, wiser or just busier during the time between now and the future!

These are the things that I do that work for me. Everyone is different; every situation is different, but if you truly work toward making sure every moment in your life counts, life will be better.

Remember to make memories daily that you always want to remember!

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1 Comment

  • Ann Borrego says:

    Pam, You are a set memory in so many spouses minds and will always be one in mine. I am so blessed to have you as my friend. Thank you for helping all of us. Congrats on the article.
    love ya,, Ann