Saying Goodbye

IMG_1186Watching the one solo tear slowly slip down 12-year-old Makena’s cheek nearly left me undone. Ugh. I knew it would be difficult to form words telling Makena and her brother Bryce that I had to put down my collie Logan—his spinal tumor was just too much to overcome. Since Logan graduated to heaven on September 24, a couple of times I’ve almost stopped by these neighborhood teens’ house to break the news of Logan’s passing. But I dreaded ripping loose another breach in the dam of my tears. My heart just wasn’t ready.

Of all the neighborhood kids, 14-year-old Bryce and Makena adored Logan the most. On my almost daily walks with Logan to the nearby park, these two friends would run full blast across their front yard to the sidewalk. “Hey, Logan, hey, buddy,” was quickly met with Logan backing into these siblings, waiting for his trademark hip massage. Hugs, hugs. Massage, massage. Logan and I saw this family at least once a week for the past year or so—even their toddler sister would waddle near and bravely tap, tap Logan’s furry side, giggling in delight.

So when I took a quick walk on Monday past their house, Bryce bolted from the front door first, then Makena. Before they could ask “Where’s Logan?,” I blubbered through the explanation. That’s when Makena’s single tear wiggled down her left cheek. Looking toward the setting sun to steady his emotions, Bryce exclaimed, “I knew something was wrong! We’ve been looking for Logan and you out the window.” Gulp. Bryce gave me a big hug and added, “I wish we could have said goodbye.”

Sigh. I wish there had been time for goodbyes, but my world narrowed considerably after that Tuesday tumor diagnosis and Logan’s final vet appointment that Thursday. I made it through several “I had to let Logan go” conversations in the past 11 weeks, but Monday’s was one of the toughest.

Let’s face it: final goodbyes just rot. My last words to my two dogs were right up there as painful as watching my parents die. Death is brutal and not part of God’s original design for this earth. I do think that when we endure the loss of a loved one, resilience buds anew in our heart. We may not notice for awhile the fresh strength immerging from our sorrow, but our overcoming spirit is there mixed in with the tears and bumbling words.IMG_1469

To ease the news of Logan’s death, I excitedly told Bryce and Makena about my being near the top of a waiting list for a new collie puppy to train for pet therapy, to visit people in senior homes, hospitals, schools, etc. “How soon will get the puppy?” Bryce blurted. “Can you come to our school?”

Before they returned to their homework, I smiled and assured these young friends, “I know Logan is up in heaven and he’s one of the main greeters with his “Hey, hey everybody” personality. He welcomes people and then backs into them for a hip massage.”

That made us all chuckle and Makena’s tear stop.

P.S. Late this afternoon I stopped by Bryce and Makena’s house with photos of Logan and a thank you note for them being so kind to my collie boy. They were not home, but I talked at length with their older sister Taylor, who also was a Logan fan. Now I can’t wait for these neighborhood friends to help me name my anticipated puppy. I will definitely keep you posted on this new bundle of joy!

Brave and Resilient Tip #127: Saying goodbye can be a hello to fresh resilience.

Let’s Talk

How to Say No To Friends

Q. Would you share some thoughts about telling friends no?

A. Let’s Talk! Saying no is difficult! Here are some various ways to help you say no to friends when they pressure you.

Both adults and children have struggles establishing boundaries and not bending to peer pressure. Whether you are a grownup, teen or toddler, you want to be free of intimidation by others and want your no to be heard. The following is language to learn for taking a stand. You may want to role-play with someone to practice these various ways of saying no:

  1. Say No and Get Away—and Tell Someone/Ask Someone for Help Use this option when there is intense pressure involved.
  2. No, or, no thanks, no way, sorry, I don’t feel comfortable about this, not interested, I pass, or simply hold up your hand in a stop motion.
  3. Turn Around and Leave Your leaving says no nonverbally!
  4. Ignore Not saying anything is still a nonverbal no.
  5. Give a Reason “I don’t want to go” or “I don’t want to break the law” or “I’ve got something else to do..
  6. Change the Subject Take control of the conversation. “Did you see ____ on TV?” “Guess what I heard today!” “I really like your shoes. . . . ”
  7. Better Idea “Why don’t we do _____ instead?”
  8. Return the Dare If pressured with an end to the relationship say, “No, the truth is, if you were really my friend, you would not ask me to do something I don’t want to do or ask me to do something that is not right.”
  9. Let the Belittling Bounce Off If someone berates you and attempts to undermine your no, simply shrug your shoulders, hold your head high and walk away.
  10. Joke “Sorry, I have to brush my dog’s teeth” or “I have to count my socks” or “That would turn my hair green” or “I have to walk my goldfish;” etc.!

You want to say/do one of the above ways to say no or even any combination of these ten things—but definitely move OUT of the pressured situation within 30 seconds. If you hang around peer pressure any longer than that, chances are you will end up saying yes.

It is ALWAYS the right say no if we don’t have a peace about a situation or we know it is the wrong thing to do. The more we practice setting boundaries and saying an appropriate no, the easier it will get.

For Deeper Reflection

1 Corinthians 10: 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

Matthew 5: 37 “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘no’…”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at

Let’s Talk

Talking About Difficult Subjects
With Loved Ones

Q.  What are some ways to discuss difficult subjects with my family and friends?

A. Let’s Talk! We always want to share truth with others, but that is often challenging to do, to hear and receive at times. But, there is a mental outline I’d love to share with you as you make that brave choice.

Like many things, we learn best from mistakes. I had a doozie of a mistake years ago, but the outcome was The Sandwich outline the Lord gave me that I shall gladly pass along to you. The doozie was a parent-teacher conference that went south. Caving to time pressure, I shared with a mother the concerns I had for her child at a high rate of speed. Her response was, “Doesn’t he do anything right?” I was halted in my tracks, deeply grieved for my speedy delivery void of empathy. I knew better and apologized profusely to this mother. That night I cried out for God to show me a way to better share difficult material. The mental download was The Sandwich.

Picture a big burger. Let’s say the meat itself is the challenging message we want to give, but we first start the conversation with the top bun—sprinkled with as many sesame seeds (or honest kudos) as possible. Top bun language yields sincere sentences in soft words that will preface the difficult message. In the example of the parent-teacher conference, I should have said: “Your son has brought much joy to the classroom and is strong in these ways . . . and I also need to share a behavior of concern.”

Then, you slide down to the bottom bun and say something soft like, “but I know we can work together to make things better.” Then I should have asked if I could share the concern with her. Yes, that was the purpose for the meeting, but it is more respectful to ask. I have never had anyone refuse my sharing a “concern” when I asked if I could share it. That’s when you share the concern, or the meat of the sandwich, after which you can reiterate the bottom bun message.

This is just one way to share a hard comment in a loving but firm way. Said another way: tell the absolute truth in loving-kindness. The message is hard enough, but a smooth delivery helps it go down better!


For Deeper Reflection

Ephesians 4:15  “. . . but, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow in all aspects of
Him into Him . . . .”

1 Corinthians 13:1 – 7  “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

You can contact me confidentially at

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.