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Word of the Week: Abschiedsschmerz

Few things are more painful than saying goodbye to someone you care about. In German, there’s a word for this
type of pain: Abschiedsschmerz.
The term comes from the words Abschied (“farewell”) and Schmerz (“pain”) and it defines the pain associated
with parting ways from someone you like, love or care about. Here at the German Embassy, some of us
experience Abschiedsschmerz when a beloved coworker moves away. At an Embassy, many diplomats and
staff come and go every summer. Although it is often sad to see people leave, true Abschiedsschmerz only
arises when you part ways with someone who’s very close to you. Sometimes, working with someone for three
years will create a bond that ends in Abschiedsschmerz when it’s time for one person to leave.
Of course, Abschiedsschmerz is more likely to arise between family members and loved ones. Saying goodbye
to someone who has been with you for many years is often much harder. Parents often feel this type of pain
when their children move away to go to college or obtain a job halfway around the world. Lovers may feel the
pain of saying goodybe when one of them leaves for a long trip. Abschiedsschmerz can be particularly bad when
you’re dropping someone off at the airport, saying your final goodbye and watching them go through security. In
just a few minutes, that person is out of your sight and the pain of their absence starts to sink in.
Abschiedsschmerz can also arise at goodbye parties or if you’re simply seeing someone for the last time.
One thing that may help curb your Abschiedsschmerz is to perceive the Abschied as more of a “see you later”
than a “goodbye.” Fortunately for those in the diplomatic service, there are plenty of “see you laters”, since job
postings can bring former colleagues together again in the future.
By Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany

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