The Blessing of Goodbye: A guest post by Reverend Theo Robinson

I have been binging “Call the Midwife” with my partner, Cass, over the last month “Call the Midwife” is a BBC period drama series about a group of midwives working in the East End of London in the late 1950s and 1960s. It is an amazing show, full of excellent British humour and truly relatable story arcs.

In a recent episode, the main character, Jenny, had a loved one in hospital. He had fallen and had suffered several broken bones. When Jenny visited him in hospital, he was cheery and talkative, and they were planning what they would do upon his discharge. She left for work and not too long after she received word that he had died suddenly. Her lament was that she did not get a chance to say goodbye.

One of the hardest things you can do is watch someone you care for lying in a hospital bed with nothing for you to do but wait. Wait for the breathing to slow, wait for the heart to stop, wait for the person to decide it is time for them to go. As hard as that waiting is, though, it gives ample time for you to say goodbye.

A short while ago, I sat next to my friend as he lay in a hospital bed. I listened to his ragged breathing as the cancer that had eradicated his body began to take away his final moments. I could feel inside of me the wails of Mary, both the mother of Jesus and of Magdalene, as they clung to Jesus’ feet as he died on the cross. Those wails were their goodbyes to Jesus. My wails to my friend were a lot more silent than that, but I still appreciated the chance to say goodbye to him. I have had missed opportunities for proper goodbyes with other friends who have died. I was grateful that things were different this time. Having that chance to sit with him over his last few days seemed to make his death easier to take and attending his funeral a little easier to do.

Saying goodbye is never easy. And some goodbyes are harder than others. But no matter how painful, saying goodbye is important. A lack of a goodbye can feel like unfinished business while the opportunity to say goodbye can be extremely healing.

During his final days, Jesus was trying to say goodbye to his apostles. But each time he was met with disbelief and an unwillingness to let go. However, that is what goodbye is; a way to let go of the person. Not to forget them, but to allow them to leave this earth.

Saying goodbye reminds us of how precious time is and how we shouldn’t take for granted the time we have together. When you miss out on that chance to say goodbye, it can leave something hanging in the air. Whenever you have the chance to say goodbye to someone who matters to you, do so. Do not hesitate. No matter type of goodbye you make, it can be extremely healing.

When I attended my friend’s funeral, I expected so many more tears than I shed and I assumed it would be extremely difficult to preside over his burial. However, all I felt was peace, which I thought was odd. However, thinking back on it now, I truly believe that because I had such profound moments of saying goodbye to him throughout his final weeks, all I had left to feel at the end of a sense of gratefulness that his pain had come to an end.

Are there times in your life where you missed the chance to say goodbye? Are you avoiding visiting someone because you are scared to say goodbye? Do not wait until it is too late. In the moment, there will be sadness. But in the end, there will be peace.


The Reverend Theo Robinson is an Anglican priest serving as a Pastor in the Interlake Regional Shared Ministry with the Lutheran Church of the MNO Synod. He an openly transgender priest who wants to be a visible example that God loves all of creation. You can follow his blog at or look him up on Facebook as Rev Theo Robinson. Theo lives on Treaty One Territory in the city of Winnipeg with his partner, Cass, his two children, Elly and Kathleen, and their four cats.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s