Dr. Julie S. Lundgren

English Speaking Psychologist in Gothenburg, Sweden

The Importance of Saying Goodbye

Whether you are thinking of moving to Sweden or have already made the transition, do not underestimate the power that saying a proper goodbye can have on your long-term adjustment.

Human beings are naturally driven to form attachments to others, and it is through these connections to people and surroundings that we build our self-image and self-esteem. Because these attachments are so significant, it is naturally painful to say goodbye. The human mind automatically enlists the help of defense mechanisms in order to deal with psychic pain. Defenses are often aimed at providing short-term relief, but with long-term costs to overall adjustment.

In the case of anticipating a loss, a common defensive maneuver is to devalue ones attachments in order to make leaving them easier. At times this can take the form of avoidance of loved ones or of emotionally-significant locations. A more destructive defensive style is sometimes invoked, for example one may initiate arguments with loved ones, or possibly even destroy a relationship with a friend or family member over a superficial disagreement just
prior to leaving.

This coping style is of course a two-way street; people close to you may have enlisted this strategy when they found out you were planning to move. They may have felt rejected and insignificant and coped with these feelings by devaluing you or their relationship with you. It is important to find more direct ways of coping with feelings of loss and sadness.

Meeting with people before you leave, visiting favorite places, and allowing yourself to experience the loss and associated feelings of grief are essential rituals that, while painful in the short-term, contribute to better post-transition adjustment.

If you have already moved, it is not too late to repair a relationship that may have suffered as a result of your move. A genuine, worthwhile relationship can usually survive a crisis, but don't sweep problems under the rug. If you confront hurt feelings and misunderstandings directly, the relationship will be strengthened in the long-run.