There’s a new book out on the ways we say goodbye. In Exit: The Endings That Set Us Free, author Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot explores endings through the stories of people in transition.
Too often “we tend to ignore and diminish endings,” she writes, while celebrating beginnings. Instead, we should “develop the habit of marking the small goodbyes to help us master the larger farewells.”
NPR’s Neal Conan spoke with Lawrence-Lightfoot about her book and making the most of goodbyes. One of the highlights was this exchange:
On how oncologist Dr. Willard Wang prepares his patients for their eventual exits, and himself
“He treats patients with a rare form of cancer, and so most of these patients will die. And rather than sort of creating these professional boundaries, this kind of distance so he won’t feel the pain and won’t feel the loss, he does just the opposite: He creates relationships of trust and companionship.
“He tries to do for them as they are dying what they need to have done. And he accompanies them to the end, as witness to this experience, and it is through the warmth and depth of this relationship that he is able to say a good goodbye.”