The Long Goodbye

Nancy Reagan called it “The Long Goodbye.” She was speaking of the care she provided for her husband who was a ailing with the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Every day was “goodbye” as she found her husband moving further and further away while the disease took its toll.

Nobody here is suffering from Alzheimer’s. But it’s been a long goodbye between me and the church I’ve served the past fifteen years.

  • I received a Call to Ascension Lutheran in Casselberry, Florida, the first Sunday in March.
  • I announced my decision to accept the Call on April 15th.
  • I preached my last sermon as pastor of Mt. Calvary on May 27th.
  • The congregation has graciously decided to do a service of thanksgiving and farewell on June 3rd.

All of that adds up to a great deal of time to let it all sink in, for people to express their emotions, for many to say farewell. Long goodbyes are not easy. Sometimes I think it might just be easier to announce a decision one week and be gone the next.

But there is something to be said for long goodbyes. This period of time has allowed the opportunity to

  • Prepare my assistant, boards, and other leaders for the transition.
  • Sort through things that I may or may not need as I move on in ministry.
  • Give people time to go through “the stages of grief.”
  • Give me the time to thank those who have been so helpful in my ministry.
  • Help both me and the congregation sit back and realize just how much we have appreciated each other.

As uncomfortable as it may sometimes be, there is something to be said for a long goodbye. In the end it brings closure, peace, and good will.

Farewells are really never easy. But if we must go through them, perhaps a little longer one is a little better.

When have you had the opportunity to say a long goodbye? Was it difficult, beneficial, or both?

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