When Is It Time To Say "Good bye"?

There is a saying, “Live each day as if it were your last.” It makes sense that last day of our lives is the day we would want to say goodbye. Unfortunately, on our last day we probably won’t be able to say goodbye. If we are dying a gradual death from disease we will be non responsive. If it is a fast death those people who mean the most to us probably won’t be with us.

SO--when is it time to say goodbye? Everyday! Live each day so that at the end of it there are no regrets, no unfinished business, and nothing that will create guilt feelings later.

The above is actually my life philosophy. I really think the person who asked the question, "When is it time to say goodbye?" was referring to "when do we say our final goodbye to someone who is dying?" I believe we say our goodbye in stages.

Ideally, we have already expressed our appreciation for the relationship and our goodbyes in the months to weeks before death actually occurs. We have an intimate conversation when the person who is dying is still alert and interacting with us. Later, in the hours to minutes before death, when the person is non responsive we say goodbye again. It is easier to talk to a person who is non responsive, to say everything our heart tells us to say. This is the goodbye where you talk about the difficult times as well as the good times. A cleaning of the slate so to speak. 

Another goodbye is said after the person we care about is dead. This is done at the bedside before the body is taken to the mortuary or at the coffin. This goodbye is said out loud or within your heart.

Then there is a final goodbye. I recommend we write a letter to put all of our thoughts on paper. Write about the relationship, positive and challenging, write about love, forgiveness, and understanding. Whatever is in your heart that still needs to be said, write it down. That letter can go into the coffin (under the hands, or pillow, wherever you feel led to place it), or, if there is no coffin, do something special with the letter. Keep the letter in a special place, burn it and release the ashes to the wind, or put it over flowers in a garden. Do something special with it.

When is the time to say goodbye? Many, many, times. 

Something More about... When Is It Time To Say Goodbye?

I believe that knowledge reduces fear and that in our society there is a considerable lack of knowledge about the normal, natural dying process. My blogs are one of the ways I educate the public and help neutralize the fear of death.  Knowledge Reduces Fear is a printed collection of some of my most popular posts. There are two volumes. 

We can’t take away the sadness of death. However, talking about it actually alleviates unnecessary pain and stress - because knowledge reduces fear.

Related products


Katy Koppanyi

Barbara, my mother is in hospice care and has been for many weeks. I was just introduced to your work this week. Wow! Your writing is so very helpful. Your little blue book gave so much understanding about this part of life. I want to say, thank you. I will be sharing you as a resource from now on. Your life’s work is tremendous and your generous spirit shines through. Thank you again


Excellent coaching, Barbara. Beautifully expressed.

Myra Bennett

I always love the way you explain things Barbara! I hope you know how many people you help.

barbara karnes

Hi Michael, what important work you are doing. Blessings to you and to all those you bring guidance and comfort to. Barbara

Janet Miller

I did not live in the same state with my parents as an adult, and the news that my father was critical came as a shock. A flurry of trying to find a flight, driving 3 hours on 2 lane roads to get to an airport, and I didn’t make it in time. BUT, I am comforted that I always told him how much he meant to me, so in spite of my grief, I knew that HE knew how much I loved him, and still do. Made me feel a little better. Miss him so much!

1 2

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published