How to Not Cry When Saying Goodbye
Saying goodbye can be really tough, especially if you’re leaving someone you care about or moving away from a place filled with happy memories. As much as you try to hold those tears back, crying often seems inevitable. But with the right mindset and techniques, you may be able to get through a goodbye dry-eyed.
Key Tips for Holding Back Tears
- Prepare yourself mentally. If you know a goodbye is coming, take some time to process your emotions and mentally prepare. This will help you stay composed.
- Distract yourself. Focus on logistics, tasks, conversations – anything to keep your mind occupied.
- Relax your body. Tense muscles can trigger tears. Consciously relax your face, shoulders, and body.
- Take deep breaths. Deep breathing helps you maintain control. Inhale and exhale slowly.
- Hold your tongue. Suppressing the urge to speak helps hold back tears.
- Limit eye contact. Looking into someone’s eyes can trigger emotions. Try looking away.
Why We Cry When Saying Goodbye
Crying during goodbyes is an instinctive emotional response. Here’s some background on why it happens:
- It’s a release of built-up emotion. If you’ve anticipated the goodbye, you’ve probably cycled through emotions like sadness, nostalgia, anxiety, and grief. The goodbye ends up being the trigger for releasing all those pent-up feelings.
- You’re missing someone already. When faced with goodbye, you start mourning the loss of someone’s presence in your life, even before they are gone. This sense of missing someone can bring on tears.
- It signals change. Goodbyes represent change, uncertainty, and end of an era. These concepts provoke emotion.
- Hormones play a role. Emotional tears release hormones like adrenocorticotropic hormone and leucine enkephalin, which act as pain relievers. Crying can literally help ease the pain of a goodbye.
- Empathy and connections. If the other person is crying, it can trigger your own tears through emotional empathy and closeness.
Tactics to Distract Yourself
If you feel tears welling up, you can quickly shift your focus to something else and distract your mind. Here are some distraction tactics:
- Recite lyrics to a song in your head
- Count backwards from 100
- Spell words backwards in your mind
- Recall a funny video or memory
- Do math problems in your head
- Think of a soothing image like waves on a beach
- Fiddle with a small object like a coin or paperclip
- Visualize your happy place or somewhere you want to visit
Physically relaxing your body helps maintain composure and control. Here are some quick relaxation tips:
- Loosen muscles in face, neck, and shoulders. Roll your shoulders back and relax any facial tension.
- Slow, deep breathing. Inhale slowly through your nose, feel your belly expand. Exhale slowly through your mouth.
- Picture a relaxing scene. Imagine somewhere peaceful like a beach or forest. Envision the sights, sounds, and smells.
- Scan your body. Starting with your toes, notice tension in each body part. Consciously relax each one.
- Stay hydrated. Drink water to stay calm and prevent dry eyes that can tear up easily.
- Use muscle memory. Think back to a time you stayed composed and channel that feeling.
Strategies for Saying Goodbye
These strategies can make getting through a goodbye easier:
- Practice what to say. Script out key phrases and talking points so you don’t get tongue-tied.
- Limit small talk. Stick to key sentiments to avoid rambling emotionally.
- Pick a quick goodbye. Don’t drag it out. Rip it off like a bandaid! A quick hug and heartfelt “I’ll miss you!” is perfect.
- Have an exit strategy. Plan your departure route so you’re not scrambling awkwardly post-goodbye.
- Shift focus to the future. Talk about future plans and how you’ll keep in touch. End on a forward-looking, positive note.
- Thank people. Express gratitude for the meaningful moments you shared.
- Write it out. If you didn’t get to say something, put it in a letter. You’ll get closure.
When Tears Are Okay
While it’s possible to say goodbye without crying, it’s also perfectly okay to let those tears flow. If you just can’t hold back, don’t be hard on yourself. Here are some cases when tears are fine:
- You’re saying goodbye to someone extremely close to you.
- You may not see the person again for a very long time, or ever.
- You’re overwhelmed with the finality of the situation.
- You tried strategies to stay composed but the emotions just poured out.
The bottom line is – we all deal with goodbyes differently. If you do end up crying, it can be cathartic. You shared a deep bond with that person, place or experience, and it’s normal to feel emotional. The tears eventually subside.
With preparation and techniques to distract your mind and relax your body, you can tackle those inevitable goodbyes dry-eyed. But if the tears flow regardless, accept them. Then turn your sights to the exciting future ahead.