Why Making A Special Video Is The Perfect To Say Goodbye To Your Graduating Friends

Next year, I will be a senior at UCLA. Though I am not graduating now, I’ve said enough goodbyes to friends who are to know how hard it can be. Last year, I said goodbye to one of my closest friends at UCLA as he graduated and took that next step in his life. As hard as this was, my friends and I devoted time to making him a carefully crafted video as our goodbye gift to him and as a way to accept this change in our life. This was not just a simple project that took one long night to complete or a last minute idea that we decided to pursue on a slow day. Rather, this was a large effort which involved a lot of people, heartfelt stories, planning and nostalgic tears. When it was all said and done, it was one of the most touching things that I had ever been a part of. It was something that our beloved graduated friend still thinks about today. Here is how the process went from beginning to end and why you should consider doing something similar either as a graduating senior yourself or as a close friend to one:

camcorder on blue backgroundWe had been thinking of ways to say goodbye to our friend for quite some time. He was the only senior in our close group of friends and had become an essential part of all of our college experiences. We wanted to make sure that we expressed to him how important he was to us, how proud we were of his accomplishments and how much we love him. We all threw around ideas until eventually discovering that we all had different stories and sentiments that they wanted to express. So, we decided to let everyone tell their own story and say what our friend meant to them through one video. I believe that we are defined by the people we are surrounded by. It is these people who see parts of us that we don’t recognize in ourselves and who make our presence matter in the world. Through the eyes of the people we love, we are seen and we exist. I began to believe this even more as my friends and I started to reach out and ask people who our friend was to them.First, we called all of the mutual friends, outside of ourselves, that we shared with our beloved graduate and asked them to send us a video where they expressed who our friend was to them and what they wanted to say to him as he entered this next stage of his life. Immediately, we received millions of questions. How long should it be? Do I just address him? Do we tell stories? Can I sing a song? Can I do it with someone else? It was here we realized that there was not one way of format that could accurately fit who all of these people are, as our friend has touched so many people in so many unique ways. We wanted to make sure everyone in the video felt comfortable to be themselves, since that is how our friend knows and loves them. To achieve this, there were no guidelines and the responses we received were amazing.

We began to receive videos of friends singing songs, reciting poems, rapping, dancing, showing pictures, reminiscing on old times, or just laughing for two minutes over an inside joke that nobody but our graduating friend could understand. It was brilliant. We soon began to see that our friend was more than just who we knew him as and that his generosity and smile made an impact far beyond our small group. So, we reached out to people that we have never even met but who our friend knew and loved to see what they had to say and add to the growing story of our friend. This included friends he made while traveling, while working at his job and friends from his childhood. It even included people we have heard him mention hundreds of times and who we saw tagged on his Instagram pictures, but who we never knew how he even met. These were my favorite people to reach out to because they told me stories about my friend that weren’t even included in the video but that I stored away for a rainy day when I want to hold something over his head. Everyone we reached out to had something to say and was more than excited to say it. After gathering all the footage, we began to plan the screening.

Hand holding remote pointed at tv screenWe decided to screen the video at his graduation party and we invited everyone who was involved in the process. The moment we announced the screening of the video, our friend was surprised and honored but it wasn’t until it began to play that we realized just what we had created. As each person appeared on screen, everyone began to see just how many people one person can reach and how much good they can create. It was incredible to see all the love and laughter that one person has created over just a few years of their life accumulated into one video. It is overwhelming to see the chain reaction of your existence and to see how much you have grown and become even more of a person through the people around you. Tears were shed and laughter was heard from everyone in the room. This video meant something not only to our friend, but to us as we saw our friend watch a physical representation of our love for him and truly realize the legacy he had left behind. It was comforting to know that he knew what he meant to us and it made saying goodbye that much smaller in the grand scheme of things.

a bunch of hands with red paint on them forming a heartEach person involved in this project took only a few minutes out of their day to become one part of something so much bigger. This video is a physically recorded piece of friendship and love that we and our friend can look back on and keep for the rest of our lives, no matter where we end up. This was better than any store bought item I could have given him and it is something that everyone should consider if they want to find a proper way to say goodbye.