Goodbye might be the saddest word in the world and saying it possibly is the hardest thing to do. But the weight this word carries is beyond comprehension. This is the reason why you see the hue and cry of people at any airport before the departure of their beloved ones, just for giving a farewell, saying a simple word- goodbye.
With every goodbye, the world tends to get a little better. Saying goodbye to someone means the person who said it has acknowledged the time both the person shared together and it is time for putting a full stop and moving on.
Humans crave answers that are anything but confusing or ambiguous. Puzzles and mysteries make people restless. This is very common human nature. Cognitively, people seek a conclusion to their story, with a past, present, and future. When embarking on closure, they can restructure their stories, perhaps seeing it in a healthier way, understanding what went wrong in the past and modifying the stories accordingly while going forward.
When people are denied closure, their attempts to understand what happened can leave unanswered questions and doubts about their own abilities to engage in meaningful relationships. That’s why closure is a very crucial part of mental health and physical well-being. Goodbyes are the first step of closure. Saying goodbye allows people to release anything that they have kept inside. They can find a quiet place to be alone and let whatever they need off their chest out.
An article in American Psychological Association defined it as an ending marked by a sense of closure. The article argued that a well-rounded ending is associated with high positive affect, low regret, and an easy transition into the subsequent phase.
Not saying goodbye when you leave is generally regarded as a rude gesture as well. Saying goodbye serves as an essential factor in linguistic routines of politeness in most cultures and helps to improve social interactions both in the long and short term. Saying goodbye whenever you can help to build positive relationships with other people around you.
If goodbye is ignored, the resolution gets harder to come by. A person may never fully resolve the separation and may find him/herself in a perpetual state of mourning, wondering what could have been. A skipped goodbye manifests feelings of regret, anger, confusion and guilt.
Teaching kids to say goodbye is a sign of a good upbringing. Bidding goodbye is a part of basic manners, after all. This is why babies are taught to wave.
“Goodbyes or farewells are important because saying goodbye is like codifying your feelings. I believe the purpose or emotion behind saying goodbye can vary from person to person or it can vary according to the relationship you have with that person like friends, family. Saying goodbye to someone is kind of expressing courtesy, love or adoration towards the person. It also implies that you hope the person to be happy, tension-free, relaxed when you are not around them,” explains Fatima Islam Bonna, a sophomore of the Department of Psychology at the University of Dhaka. She bids goodbye to her friends every time she is about to leave; it doesn't matter if it is for a while or for a longer period.
Goodbyes don’t really have to be verbal all the time. Many non-verbal gestures as simple as eye contact can also bid someone a heartfelt goodbye.
Saying goodbye is, in fact, a ritual that makes each hug meaningful, reminding of the relationship you’ve had. In the end, people will only regret not saying goodbye to a person they really care about, especially if an unfortunate accident takes his/her life away. Sadly enough, the most painful goodbyes are the ones that are left unsaid and never explained.
No wonder, goodbye is a hated term. People do not like goodbye as it makes them face a loss after all. But it is the best way to move on. As the American writer Cassandra Clare said in her book Clockwork Princess- “At last, the wheel comes full circle.”
Kaniz Fatema is a 4th-year student at the Department of Geography and Environment, the University of Dhaka.