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How Can I Help You To Say Goodbye

by Chaplain Julia Rajtar, MAPS, BCC


I recently heard this song: “How can I help you to say goodbye”.  Um, how can I help you say goodbye could be the name of a grief group, or a statement between two people moving apart from each other, or a question to help someone begin to adapt to loss, or a statement of finality… or is it?  Music transports us to places we dare not go sometimes.


How can I help you say goodbye…  well if you consider the theory of continuing bonds, I don’t have to help you say goodbye.  We all have to let go of physical presence, and all the roles that person filled in our lives, of course, yet the theory of Continuing Bonds, informs us that many people find it a comfort and support to remain connected to the deceased as part of their adjustment to the death.


Each Loss Needs To Be Mourned

As we mourn and grieve a death, or any loss, we begin a roller coaster ride of trying to live as things were before death and trying to adapt life to the reality of the absence of that special person.  Eventually, at some point, we integrate that death into our lives, learning to carry it with us, differently though.  The lyrics of this song teach us: “Mama whispered softly time will ease your pain, Life’s about changing nothing ever stays the same…”.   The songwriter is correct, nothing ever stays the same, in life or death.  After a death, we go through a series of losses, like the ripple effect of dropping a pebble in the water, the loss of a partner, the loss of a cook, the loss of a travel companion, the loss of hopes and dreams… each loss needing to be mourned.


The lyrics of this song can offer comfort as we hear:  And she said how can I help you to say goodbye it’s okay to hurt and it’s okay to cry , Come let me hold you and I will try how can I help you to say goodbye.  The person speaking is teaching us how to support a bereaved, telling us it’s both ok to hurt and ok to cry.  It’s ok to be held.  It’s ok to struggle to say goodbye.  Beautiful lessons about mourning that a mama taught her daughter in this song.


Songs Help Say Goodbye

Songs can be a source of comfort and support after the death of a loved one.  What song(s) has been meaningful to you as you mourn a death?  Yes, it’s natural to avoid listening to some of the music that was shared with the deceased, because it is too painful.  And, it’s also natural to want to get back to listening to it because it was shared,  is meaningful, and although it encompasses pain, it brings to mind and heart, priceless memories.


If you are willing to share, post a comment below:

What song brought you comfort after a death and why?



What’s Your Grief

How Can I Help You Say Goodbye, Song by Patty Loveless,  Source: LyricFindSongwriters: Burton Collins / Karen Taylor-Good, How Can I Help You Say Goodbye lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Warner Chappell Music, Inc


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