James Budd headshot

Three Ways to Say Goodbye When You Didn’t Get to Say Goodbye

Blythe Landry Guidance

Sometimes life literally makes no sense. Like literally. It just doesn’t make sense. I rarely share much personal stuff in the space of my work, but today, I’m going to – because I think it matters.

Yesterday, I found out about the sudden death of a dear friend, James Budd. He has been my business coach, mentor, spiritual teacher, and cherished friend for the past 7 years. In fact, without him, I wouldn’t have my own business, wouldn’t be in the industry of helping people full-time, and wouldn’t have written this blog. All of it was his idea. More than that, he was a mentor, guide and friend to everyone he encountered. He was in his 50s. He was in stellar shape. He worked out 6 days a week. Hadn’t had a sip of alcohol in over 20 years. He ate healthfully and had a remarkable spiritual life that made him lead with light everywhere he went. Last week we were texting jokes and this week he was dead. He just fell over. There was no warning. There was no plan. But one thing I know for sure is that I definitely took him for granted and assumed he would always be there. I was, as I often am; utterly wrong.

It is so often in life we hear people tell us to say the thing, do the thing, tell the person you love them. But do we always do it? Not even close. I think we don’t do it until we have something happen that jars us into reality and the gravity of time – of no control; of no ability to predict anything in life. Then, and often only then, do we take action. I can say to myself today, “I will always tell people I love them from now on, because of this;” but I know better. I know my humanity will prevail yet again, and I’ll practice the same self-protective behaviors I always have until I get jarred again and then again and then again. What I CAN say assuredly, though, is that this loss is making me willing. More willing, maybe, than I’ve been in a long-time – to slow down, to take stock and to really think about what matters most. And you know what it isn’t? Business, money, winning, and striving. You know what it is? Loving and connecting and forgiving and relishing. That is it. That is all that matters. Nothing more.

One thing this experience has given me, however; is a newfound commitment to healing and hope.

And this reflection on healing and hope leads me to a few things. First, James loved tips. He built a business on providing tips and truths and laws of life. His business and his approach to life worked. So that is why I’m sharing tips today in his honor. And second, I think we don’t talk about real things in life enough. The reality that time passes and many times, we literally don’t get to tell the people we love goodbye. We don’t have that choice. But we still do have choices – and we can carve out times and ways to say goodbye, even when the opportunity has been robbed from us in the most base human sense of the term.

Three Tips for Saying Goodbye When You Didn’t Get to Say Goodbye:

1. Listen

That is right. Just sit for a minute and listen. What do you hear? One of the things that we often do when we get bad news, is we run; we jump; we rush into action. And while I do believe conscious listening is a very valid and important action, I also think that it is the type of seemingly passive action that scares many of us into avoiding it. If you are missing someone you love – what might you learn about them and their journey if you just paused? What might you learn about yourself and how you feel? What if you cry? What if you just hit a pillow? Maybe you will smile because you are allowing yourself to fully receieve all the gifts and miracles this person/these people have bestowed upon you.

One of my favorite James slogans, and one of the many that has helped change my life was “Receiving is the advanced class.” That means all types of receiving. Allowing the weight of the love you have and had for this connection, this unique one-of-a-kind relationship, to embrace you physically and emotionally and to listen for it in the best ways you know how. What did this person make you feel? How did you learn from them? What will you miss most? How can you embrace those things and integrate them so you can go forth and share them with others? Let it all rip. Let it all be. Allow the love. It may hurt a tiny bit, but it will only hurt worse if you deny it. Don’t be ashamed or afraid. It is only love. It can’t destroy you. It can only heal.

Do it more than once. Do it regularly. Get to know your pain. Get to know your space that will always carry that person. Get to know your new self without them physically around. It’s okay. They are worth it and so are you.

2. Look Around

I can’t tell you how many times the universe sends us signs. I was talking to a friend last night who was also a very big part of James’ life, and he told me as he was walking a block down the street in the middle of Mexico, he saw a huge, random and fiery flame. That exact fiery flame was the whole symbol of James’ business. Accident? Coincidence? Spiritual Sign? You get to decide. Personally, I have no doubt the universe is abundant and full and that crossing over is simply a stage of our development. I wholly believe in signs. And if you do too, ask for them. When you are ready, your loved one will show you the way. He/She/They will let you know that you can say goodbye to their physical form, but never their soul. They are always there.

I’m not saying that is easy. It completely sucks to have a person gone in the physical body, and I don’t want to negate or minimize that in any way. Be pissed about it. I know I sure am. But also be open. You don’t want to close your heart so deeply because it hurts that you close yourself off to finding connection to your loved one – sometimes in ways and means that you needed the most and expected the least.

3. Be Open to Self and Other Forgiveness

I can safely say there is not one thing that James ever did to me that would require forgiveness. But you know what, I know myself; and I bet there were many things I did to him that would. I may have said I was sorry. Maybe I didn’t. But I do know that I wish I had said more often and more robustly how much he changed my life…was CHANGING my life in the now…how much he made me feel loved, included, valued and important. I was looking over my last few texts with him from last week and we were joking and laughing and he was being ridiculous, which was one of his most lovable qualities. And the last thing I texted my friend was “You are dumb.” That’s right, that was the last thing I said to someone I love. Sure I was joking. Sure I was saying it as a function of love and showing him how much he made me laugh, but that honestly makes my heart feel spliced in half to type out. “You are dumb.”

It keeps going through my mind. His last message to me was a heart. I never responded. That hurts, but it is also real and raw. I know James knew how much I loved him, but I also have to live with the fact that the last words I said to someone I love were not the words I would have wanted to say. Am I bad? No. Did I mean it in a mean way? Of course not. But still, if I don’t acknowledge that – and I don’t forgive myself…then I am blocking myself from both the possibility of a healing goodbye to my beloved friend, as well as to the openness of having a connection to all the spiritual gifts he will undoubtedly be sending me from the other side.

I share this for a reason. Not to make this about me, but to encourage others to share their truth. Don’t keep secrets about any shame you have surrounding the loss of a loved one. It will block you from healing, but also from growing as a result of your connection. Every person we know matters. They all do. Some matter deeply to us, and we need to address it. Part of “adulting” and addressing these things is owning where we have been, what we said, how we handled something and allowing ourselves to feel vulnerable enough to ask for forgiveness…either from our friend who we no longer get to see, or even from ourselves.

Forgiveness allows openness. It allows freedom. And it allows us to move forward so we can truly live the life we are meant to live. One day, even one minute, at a time.

If you are grieving the loss of a beloved pet and seeking support, contact me and refer to this blog for a free, 30 minute phone consultation.