Learning to Say Goodbye


Leah Abraham -Learning to Say Goodbye3

I hate graduations.

I hate long, boring speeches. I hate masses of loud and enthusiastic friends and family. I hate obligatory photos.

I hate it all.

I tried to weasel out of my graduation couple of years ago. However, my family objected. My friends who were first-generation graduates shared with me their stories, explained the significance of the event for them and their families, and made me confront my own privileges.

I relented and attended my graduation. I listened to long, boring speeches, cringed as I walked through long lines of loud people, and smiled until I couldn’t smile anymore for photos.

It was difficult, but I endured. Four years had finally come to a close, and I couldn’t wait a second longer to pack up my belongings and get right out of campus.

My undergraduate years were beautiful, yes, but they were also confusing, difficult, and pruning. My tendency to give everything I have (and then some) led to burnout and resentment.

What I left behind were opportunities to tell my peers and teachers the impact they had on me. What I failed to do was to honor the space, the people and the experiences that saw me through an important time in life.

I did not give thanks where gratitude was due nor did I seek forgiveness where hurt was present. The loose ends I left kept peace from entering my soul.

Goodbyes are hard. But I’m learning they’re so, so important.

It is the gift you give to those who have journeyed with you. It is the blessing you impart to those who have blessed you.

Seasons come and go, but unless I honor what I leave behind, I won’t be able to move on. Letting go when the time is right is a courageous, dangerous act. So is taking the next step. This is the flow of life. To let go and dive headfirst is possibly the bravest thing I can do.   

That is why this year I have made up my mind — I am no longer going to hate graduations. I won’t see them as nightmare events for tired, burnt out students and overzealous family. Instead, it is a sacred space where students honor those who’ve journeyed with them. It is a brief pause between death and birth, a holy time to remember the old and embrace the new.

It is the time to hug friends, to thank family, to respect teachers, and to dare to dream for a better tomorrow. It is the time to fully immerse in love, to show love, to receive love, and to remember we are made by love for love.

This is my prayer for graduates. It is also for those in seasons of transition, for those leaving something familiar behind, for those having to face a brave, new world tomorrow, and for those who need an extra bit of courage for the next step. It is for me, too.

May we honor new beginnings and faithful endings.

May we give thanks where gratitude is due.

May we seek forgiveness where hurt is present.

May we grieve when it is time, and celebrate when it is time.

May we be courageous and take that next brave step.

May we immerse fully and flow with the river of life.


May God go with you.


Leah Abraham
Leah is a storyteller + writer + journalist + creative + empathizing romantic + pessimistic realist + ISFP + Enneagram type 2 + much more. She lives in the Seattle area where she works as an education reporter and features writer. Bonus facts: She loves the great indoors, hates to floss, and is obsessed with Korean food and her dorky, immigrant family.
Leah Abraham
Leah Abraham

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  1. Helen Burns Helene Burns says:

    These words will stay with me when it comes to taking the time to say good-bye in the future and giving honour to the journey….’It is the gift you give to those who have journeyed with you. It is the blessing you impart to those who have blessed you.’

    Love, love, love… thank you xx

  2. Sandy Hay says:

    “May we be courageous and take that next brave step.” I think we’re all learning that a bit each day at sheloves. Now we just have to move 🙂

  3. One more bridge-burning graduation dodger here.
    So, I really appreciate your thoughts about the way a ceremony creates a space for all the things that are supposed to happen in that time of transition. And . . . I nearly made the same mistake recently when my mum passed away. It seemed so pointless to have a memorial service for my immediate family, but there was no one left but us to grieve her passing.

    So we did it yesterday. Nine Morins and our pastor and his wife sat under the funeral director’s little white tent and spent important minutes doing just what you prescribed today: honoring an ending, giving thanks, grieving, planning next steps, and acknowledging the rapid current in this river of life.

    • Leah Abraham Leah Abraham says:

      Oh Michele. I don’t have much to say but silent prayers over you nine Morins who showed up and grieved with each other. That itself has made all the difference, I’m sure.

      From one bridge-burning graduation dodger to another — shalom. May you be drenched in peace.

  4. Leah, I so appreciated this reflection. I did not attend my undergrad graduation. In my haste to “invest in eternity,” I left for an overseas missionary assignment before my convocation took place. I do lament not having truly expressed gratitude to all those people who were significant to my formation in those years. On a broader scale, I look back over those years and lament not living slowly enough to honour and appreciate the friends and teachers around me. I suppose the older I get, the more I realize how sacred time is and how precious people are. Xoxo

    • Leah Abraham Leah Abraham says:

      *Living slowly enough*

      This phrase resonates with me. I’m reading “slow” not as opposite of fast, but rather, the right speed, the rhythm we were meant to follow. Learning to honor sacred time and precious people WITH you.

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