Graduation – an End and a Beginning

Dear Grandson,

Happy Graduation! Onward and Upward on your new path! Look to the future! New people, new experiences! Yeah, yeah, yeah…

I know. The sadness of leaving high school isn’t discussed much, is it? No one talks about what you are leaving behind.

Graduating is a happy experience. Your achievements are celebrated, accolades are given generously, loved ones gather to mark the importance of the day. But, you are an intelligent young man who gets it – this is also an ending. This carries grief.

Yes, it is time to go forward with excitement and abandon, but, if ever there were a time to value your past, it is now. Time to remember the steps that brought you to this moment, realizing that these steps lead to the future. Shed a tear or wallow in a mournful moment at leaving the dedicated teachers and coaches who have taught you to learn well, and be confident that you can call forth those memories for encouragement in the years ahead, remembering words and lessons that inspired you,

Your future is bright and your past is a treasure. These have been glory days. You been cocooned in the warmth of home and family. Contemplating a future without this physical, on-site support is sobering.

You’ve been surrounded by friends – at school and at home. The joy of having friendships that began in childhood is balanced with watching these friends walk away in different directions, knowing that your paths may not cross soon. And friendships change – some quickly, some disappearing gradually. But some will last forever, holding strong through growth and changes and distance.

In your technological world you will carry friends and family with you into your new life. Cell phones and computers may not be the same as personal contact, but they make the distance seem less. You will be close enough to visit for holidays and family will appear at your dorm room pretty often.

Soon you will begin to look back on graduation with nostalgia and gratitude for a such a great sendoff. But what about now?

You’ll go on your senior trip, come home, wake up, and it will all be different. It will be freeing and exciting. It will also be empty and terrifying. When you let your mind go to the future it might hit the brick wall of the unknown. New city. New school. New teachers. New students – and lots of them!

And then it will soar with the possibilities of new city, new school, new friends. You will soon know where you are going each day and will be confident and comfortable with your destination and the people you will  meet along the way. Not every day will be perfect and some classes will be better than others. Like your first 18 years, life will fall into a new pattern that will prepare you for what happens next.

I have great confidence in your capacity for joy and personal success. You are a man of great worth – a deep-thinking, strong-feeling, quick-to-learn type of guy who knows who he wants to be in this world. Embrace the sorrow and embrace the joy. Savor this last summer of quasi-childhood with friends, family and home. Then leave the sadness behind and go for it!


June 13, 2016





  1. Great stuff! If I had anything to add it would be to try to step back and remember the day with friends and family. I don’t remember either the day I graduated high school or college, and I have no idea why. Luckily I was cognizant enough to tell myself to remember my wedding day; whew! 🙂


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