I realized a long while ago that it’s harder to be the person left behind than the person who is leaving. Assuming they went willingly, it is generally easier on the one who goes somewhere else. Whether that’s the buddy at work who quits, the good neighbor who moves away, the child who goes off to college, the spouse who vacates the marital home, or the loved person who dies.
I think it’s because the person left behind experiences the absence acutely and regularly. They see the co-worker’s empty cubicle. See the child’s room with their posters still on the walls, their trophies and knick-knacks sitting on the shelves. Go through the practical matters of funerals or sorting through and dealing with the deceased’s belongings and mostly, try to fathom and cope with the huge hole left. They field phone calls and mail for someone who’s moved on. They no longer commiserate with their neighbor during snow storms or electrical outages, or chat over the fence in fair weather. They sleep alone in the bed once shared with the other person.
While they may miss you – except for the deceased, who, no matter your beliefs about what happens after death, probably doesn’t miss anyone – the leaving person will have lots of new stimuli occupying them, or minimally, they won’t consciously or unconsciously expect to see you.
That’s the rub. It takes awhile to stop looking in the old places you still frequent or live in, expecting to see and hear what you used to. There’s a confusion that occurs, when you catch yourself about to do something you once did – and you realize you can’t. It’s over. They’re gone.
I know the sayings about doors shutting and windows opening. About old goodbyes leading to new hellos. How every new friend was once a stranger. Yes, I know all that. Like you, I hear these sayings. And you know what? I don’t care. Painful is painful. Difficult is difficult. I don’t have to paint it up pretty, spin it so it’s more palatable. I’ve lived enough to know. You miss the good ones. You just do.