Why Saying Goodbye Is So Difficult!

Saying goodbye

An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
                                                        Volume 17, Number 7

Saying goodbye to relationships, jobs, loved ones, cars, or homes can be very difficult for most people. Often, we form attachments that can interfere with our moving on. In fact, for us to move forward, we need to be able to say goodbye to whatever holds us back.

Knowing when to say goodbye was the topic of Today’s Talk With Erika, a recent podcast hosted by Erika Del Sordo. Erika interviewed both Dr. Joel Kimmel and Meredith Kimmel, life coach and daughter, for their perspective on the difficulty of saying goodbye. The podcast can be viewed here.

Our July e-Letter answers the question: why is it difficult to say goodbye? Dr. Kimmel’s blog is about Key West and can be found here.

We hope you find the enclosed information helpful and interesting. We also thank you for reading our e-Letters and for the positive and compassionate comments we have received.

Why saying goodbye is so difficult!

                                                       (Photo by Vera Arsic)

Everything comes to an end. Saying goodbye whether it be to loved ones, relationships, jobs, or others who have affected our lives gives us a sense of closure and allows us to move on. Well-rounded endings are associated with positive affect, little regret, and an easier transition into the next stage in our lives.

Saying goodbye can take courage as it can be difficult to end a relationship. But if we don’t say goodbye, we may never resolve the ending. We may stay with feelings of regret, anger, confusion, and guilt. We may always wonder what could have happened if we just said goodbye.

Just consider never saying goodbye to a loved one passing away. Many of our patients have expressed regret about not being able to say farewell and it stays with them as an emotional hurt. Saying goodbye in this situation gives emotional release.

Farewells can be painful but necessary to grow. Because they can be difficult, many of us may attempt to avoid them with rationalizations or other excuses. In fact, there are those who choose to stay in emotionally destructive relationships because they aren’t able to say goodbye. Others may lie to themselves or to the other person to avoid saying farewell and keep the status quo.

Some people do not say goodbye and ghost others. Ghosting is intentionally not saying goodbye and ending a relationship without any explanation or communication. It leads to hurt and confusion, but it is an easy way out for the person who ghosts. Saying goodbye matters and is often what we remember most about relationships.

Letting go and saying goodbye is necessary for our growth and development. It allows us to let go of the past and find a new hello whether it be a new job, a new relationship, or a new experience. Saying goodbye allows us to evolve using new skills and talents. It is a part of life and endings happen with or without our consent. They cannot be avoided but being able to let go and say goodbye allows for emotional and intellectual growth.

Saying goodbye can be a challenging and difficult experience. It requires courage but the rewards are worth it. We offer the following information:

Don’t worry because it’s over, smile because it happened…Dr. Seuss


  • There is an old saying that some people say goodbye forever without leaving, and others leave without ever saying goodbye; both can be painful
  • Whether we like it or not, there will always be times when we will have to say goodbye to loved ones, careers, friends, and others who have impacted our lives
  • Goodbyes give us closure so that we can move into the next stage of our lives
  • Not saying goodbye doesn’t lead to resolution or separation; it leads to mourning, wondering what could be, and feelings of anger, guilt, or sadness
  • Farewells can also be painful and may lead to not saying goodbye and staying in painful situations
  • Saying goodbye takes courage but it does lead to saying hello to new things
  • Studies have shown that “well-rounded endings” or closures were associated with positive feelings, little regret, and an easier transition into the next life phase
  • Those who avoid saying goodbye probably avoid most of their difficult feelings
  • Some characteristics of saying goodbyes:
  • they are a normal and healthy part of life
  • different situations require different goodbyes
  • they can be permanent or temporary
  • great relief or great sadness can come from endings
  • they can bring up forgotten or suppressed emotions
  • new possibilities for growth can come from having said farewells
  • they allow you to avoid regrets for not saying a final word to someone dying
  • Ghosting is intentionally not saying goodbye; it is ending a relationship suddenly and without any explanation and often leads to hurt and confusion
  • Endings matter and it is often what we remember most about relationships


  • Remember that saying goodbye can be a challenging experience and requires courage but the rewards are worth it
  • A good strategy for how to say goodbye is to:
  • Tell the truth
  • Avoid being too sentimental or dramatic
  • Be upbeat whenever possible and don’t focus on the negative
  • Acknowledge the difficulty and get to the point
  • Be specific and short
  • Try to end on an optimistic note
  • Look for a hello after saying goodbye
  • Seek professional help if you have emotional difficulty saying goodbye and letting go

Call us at 954 755-2885 or email us at [email protected]
Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates
5551 N University Drive, Suite 202
Coral Springs FL 33067

As always, we are interested in your thoughts. If you would like to respond to this e-Letter, email your comments to [email protected] and we will publish them next month.

Till August…

The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.

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Copyright © 2022 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates.