In many cases family members and friends do not have the opportunity to say goodbye to the loved one who died. Even at the end of a long illness, if we were not by their side at the time of death, all the pain is maximized by the thought of not having been with the person at the end. Below are some suggestions that have been helpful in situations where there was no time to say good-bye.


Say goodbye in a private setting

Find a quiet room in your home, place a picture or other symbol of your loved one in front of you. Say whatever you need to say, explain why you were not there, why you are sorry and that you will always love them. If you believe in the afterlife, ask for a sign, however subtle that they are okay and have heard you. Be sure to attend the funeral service. It is traditionally the time and place where you get to say goodbye. A funeral service is like an ‘Acceptance Ceremony’ and can be tremendously helpful.

View the body

Viewing the body can be especially important in these circumstances. Even if there is not an open casket at a funeral service, undertakers usually prepare the body for anyone who asks to view the body before it is wheeled in for the funeral. Otherwise one can view the body at the mortuary prior to the funeral service. Be sure to phone first to arrange a suitable time for viewing.

Write your goodbyes
Write your goodbyes in a letter to your loved one. This can give profound emotional and physical release. Tell them you love them and will never forget them. Later when you are burdened by your thoughts of not having said good-bye, re-read the letter, there may be something else you would like to add to your writing at this time.

Believe that your loved one understands your inability to say goodbye and would not hold a grudge. Divert your attention to a pleasant memory of your loved one and visualize them forgiving you. Say “I’m sorry” out loud, and then tell yourself, again out loud “it’s okay”. Repeat these words a few times, even if it makes you cry, it can be a profoundly helpful exercise.


We do have the ability to say a belated goodbye, recognise that separations without a goodbye sometimes happen, accept it, and start on the road to reinvesting in life.

Protect your loved ones

Get your own
affairs in order
Before it is too late!

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, all come from earth, and to earth all return.

Ashes to ashes,
dust to dust,
all come from earth,
and to earth all return.