The Lasts are Beginning
*First a note: This month I’m focusing on High School seniors who will be transitioning this coming summer, but these thoughts about lasts apply no matter who is leaving or being left.
We might think of May or June (or December in some schools calendars) as the time for end of the year goodbyes, and many goodbyes happen at this time, but there are some taking place now that we should observe. There are the “lasts,” for example the last time you will perform in a high school play, or the last time your family visits your local vacation spot, your last birthday living with you family, your last spring break with you highschool friends, your last months of sharing a room with your sibling, or living at home… Search not even too carefully and you’ll find many lasts that lead up to a big transition. Now is the time to recognize these, name them and let the grieving begin.
Grieving hurts, it’s time consuming, and even exhausting so we avoid it. That can look like each family member alone feeling the weight of this being the last time______is happening. Or, hearing from yourself, or a parent, “It’s ok, you’re going to really like …[whatever is next],” without the space to feel sad. It’s especially tempting to avoid grieving the “small” losses, like the loss of furniture a parent built or just the way my room looked in that one house. Really any loss is at risk of being called “small” if that helps us avoid the grief for a time. But these griefs can stack up forming quite a “tower,” as Lauren Wells puts it in her book Unstacking Your Grief Tower.
Instead, talking about these lasts, naming them, crying about them as they come and then go to memory can transform them into memories you can treasure instead of avoiding them because they contain un-faced pain. It’s a chance to practice allowing other people who understand in to share that pain.
What are some lasts coming up for your family?
What parting rituals are there in any of your cultures that might be helpful to memorialize this time?
What are you especially looking forward to that is a last that should be protected from being missed in the busyness of preparing for a transition. (For example, My brother’s birthday fell on the day we left Papua New Guinea when I graduated high school).
Here is a beautiful video discussing TCK’s griefs and goodbyes that might give you some other ideas to think and talk about.
Photo by Kunj Parekh on Unsplash