So I’m on a crusade to share examples of how to make a goodbye party the most meaningful and memorable it can be. Because as I’ve said, why else bother?
If our goodbye ceremony doesn’t impact us (ahem, in a wonderful and profound way), then we missed the boat. We went through the motions without tugging at our heartstrings.
We want to prevent that from happening.
A good friend of mine lost his sister last week. Years ago she’d been at the center of a local hullabaloo that involved yellow ribbons, which got around in the media and she wound her having her 15 minutes of fame. My friend planned to pin a big yellow ribbon to the large print he made of a newspaper article, to include at her memorial.
Nice, right? But enough?!
I told him to go out and put yellow ribbons all over the town! (It’s a quite small town. Not that that should stop you, though.) Placing ribbons all over town was in total keeping with how the story happened in the first place, so it was perfectly fitting.
Because this is the thing: You have to do things UP! It’s about scale. This is your person’s final send-off! Last time you get to honor, pay tribute, deeply recognize and publicly celebrate someone.
You can do it subtly and that’s fine. But do we want to settle for fine when we’re saying goodbye to one of our favorite, most beloved persons?
Hang up so many yellow ribbons that people don’t know what hit ’em. That you’re laughing at needing to have a ribbon budget. That the whole family winds up spending two or three quality hours together making them, all the while talking, reminiscing, crying… and if all’s going right, laughing together.
And we do this not because more is inherently better (because we all know that less is more sometimes: AHA! but don’t dwell on that right now). But because of the intensity of the occasion — the grief, the trauma, the logistics, the upheaval of life as we knew it, the finality of it all — we don’t want to miss having the person’s personality and spirit present. And not just present, but in abundance! Plentifully, generously, in good humor, and with deep affection and love.
In the end, that will create an experience and a memory for us that helps us feel gratitude and also heal.
And maybe this isn’t true for everyone, but for me, anything that makes me laugh, or even brings a genuine smile to my face, is one of the most alive feelings I have. And that’s what this is about — putting a little life into our last wishes.
Don’t be shy, take it up a notch and celebrate the bejesus out of this one very special and beloved person in your life.