Life Is a Series of Preparatory Goodbyes

Life Is a Series of Preparatory Goodbyes

During my loss, I realized that life is a series of many temporary goodbyes. Those experiences prepare us for a more permanent, lasting goodbye. Think with me about all the temporary goodbyes we endure. Sometimes, those goodbyes are traumatic.

“And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again.” Acts 20:37-38

For example, a newborn cries uncontrollably when separated from the mother’s arms. Then while still very young, and a babysitter would come in the door, a baby knows the parents were saying goodbye. Even though it’s only a couple of hours, a toddler doesn’t know that and panics. There are also those weekly experiences of being dropped off at the nursery at church. These are just short separations, hours at the most.

“The only relief I can find is in the certainty that this life is not the end, but simply the preparatory school for the real and the endless life that is beyond.” Theodore Cuyler, God’s Light on Dark Clouds

Then there are the times when parents go off for a weekend to get away. Or Mom or Dad goes on a business trip. Mom goes for a women’s retreat. Dad goes away for a men’s retreat. Then when older, a child says goodbye when going off to school every day between first and twelfth grades. And then a young adult goes off to college. The goodbyes get more difficult, and the periods of separation are more enduring. Then there’s that question: “Who gives this woman?” And then that Scriptural instruction in Genesis 2:24 where a man is said to leave his father and mother. Goodbyes are exchanged for even longer periods of time.

Then, children are born, and the cycle of goodbyes begins, once again. The series of goodbyes comes full circle in this training, this preparation in learning to say goodbye.

Life is a series of preparatory goodbyes.

“The sorest misfortune that could come to anyone would be never to die.” J. R. Miller, The Ministry of Comfort

How do you prepare for these goodbyes? Beyond these preparatory experiences, the greatest grounding is to be in relationship with God himself. His Spirit is our constant Comforter. Companion. His Word is our firm foundation. His Son’s birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection provide hope in life’s good and bad situations, in each of the goodbyes. Dependable. Consistent.

Especially for the hardest ones.

The gospel is the power of God. He and his work on the Cross are the reason we can mourn, or say goodbye, with hope. We can mourn with hope through the goodbyes. Why? Because resurrection looms large in the face of all our goodbyes. There is a greeting in eternity awaiting us with no more goodbyes.

No more goodbyes.

Remind yourself, through every separation, there is a better story beyond the seen and temporal goodbyes in your current story.

Life is a series of goodbyes that leads to an eternal welcome.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24


  1. Anonymous

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart through your writings. What a great blessing they have been. Both my brother and brother in law went to be with the Lord in the last couple months. Both were younger than me. Both were the ones who kept us laughing at our family get togethers. They were the last males of their generation. Our family dynamics changed with their passing. Both were great Christian mentors for their families and many others. Your phrase, “Life is a series of goodbyes that leads to an eternal welcome” is so meaningful. May I have your permission to pass it on. Keep blessing us all through your writings.

    • D. Ray

      Absolutely, share this with any others. The subscription is open and I want to invest my journey with as many people as possible.

  2. Sharron Burch

    Thank you for your continued writing and encourgement through the journey of learning to live with grief. This life is a series of goodbyes. But also of hello’s as we move on in the progression of this life. Even as time passes I find the remembrance of the final goodbye’s rending to us still here on earth, but also knowing the Hello for the person moving from flesh to spirit, to be present with the Lord is a great reward when we are in fellowship with Him. So I chose to focus on the Hello and that makes me smile and know that someday I will be seeing my Lord and saying Hello! My husband went to his homegoing on 4/15/16. 5 years tomorrow. So I am focusing on that sweet time that I know he experienced with My LORD and not the passing. God bless you and your witness.

    • D. Ray

      Sharron, thank you for your comments. Yes, I’ve learned there is much more attention on Kim’s “hello” in heaven and my future hello. But while I live I continue to realize every other hello is very important. We have a little more time to love others. Hellos and goodbyes are a part of life!

  3. Thank you for the constant reminders. Every moment of every day we are gifted is now a precious reminder of how fragile life here is.

    Be blessed

    • D. Ray

      Thank you, Annette. Enjoy the gift of today!

  4. Anonymous

    Wana Ann once wrote an article about saying goodbye to her first son, Giles, as he left for college. It was entitled: “All those goodbyes”. How true. But I love the hope you highlighted that there is something else. Praise God for that hope we have through Christ!

  5. Regina Duncan

    How can I forward to a friend to get to the first article in the series?

  6. Bill

    Thanks D. Ray. Truly.

    Preparing for loss has been a huge part of in developing our TCKs and something we so desperately need to be doing. Thank you for the direction and encouragement your posts give. As each year passes, I continue to feel the urgency to be prepared myself and to be a voice to help my family and others be prepared for loss the right way… 2 Corinthians 6:10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing…

    Thank you.

    • D. Ray Davis

      Press on, prepare well, and walk by faith. And yes, sorrow and joy somehow go well together.

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