Are you sad a coworker is leaving?
I remember every single coworker I was friends with who left for another job and how it felt.
It hurts. There is a feeling of loss and emptiness.
It feels a lot like losing a friend or having someone move away – because that’s pretty much what it is.
You do have the option to stay in touch and meet up, but it’s just not the same as seeing them every day.
Here are my best tips for how to deal with the sadness and heartache when a coworker you care about leaves:
Is It Normal to Be Sad When a Coworker Leaves?
First of all, I want to reassure you that it’s totally normal to be sad when a coworker leaves that whom you get on well with.
I don’t know what the working – or personal – relationship is like between the two of you, but many strong friendships have been formed at work.
After all, we spend just as much – or often more – time with our coworkers than we do our own families!
So, it’s only natural to feel sad and even a little lost when someone who has become such an integral part of our working lives leaves.
I’ve had to say goodbye to a handful of close friends over the years, so I totally understand what you’re going through.
One particular coworker that stands out in my mind is John. He was someone I spent almost 8 hours every day working with for 7 years, and we had each other’s backs through thick and thin.
He was moving from the US back to Australia to be with his family due to personal reasons and it hit me hard.
That feeling of losing the bond and relationship, having to start over with someone who didn’t understand me as well, and all those little funny things he did, it was tough.
I’m not ashamed to admit it took me weeks to really get over John leaving and to be honest, I still miss seeing him regularly to this day.
How to Deal With the Sadness of a Coworker Leaving
Everyone is going to deal with this in their own way, and it also depends on the situation, but I can offer some advice.
If you’re feeling low because a coworker is leaving, some of the things I recommend considering are:
Make the time to have a good chat with them before they go.
This will help you to say everything you want to say. Having them leave and wishing you’d said certain things is going to weigh heavy on your mind.
You could also organize a going away party or lunch to celebrate their time at the company and to wish them all the best for the future.
This is a great way to send them off on a positive note and show them how much you appreciate them. Not just as a work colleague, but as a friend.
Another idea is to swap as many forms of staying in touch as you can; Whatsapp, phone numbers, Facebook handles, etc.
That way, you’ll not feel so anxious about losing touch if they change their number, swap phones, and so on.
You could even set in stone a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meet-up. That’s a great way of knowing that you’ll still see them and catch up on a regular basis.
The bottom line is that just because they’re not in the office, it doesn’t mean you can’t still be friends and see each other.
For some people over the years, I’ve known one person leaving to be the start of something special.
They went from being great coworkers to meeting up outside of work for the first time and becoming even closer than they ever were when they worked together!
What to Say to a Coworker You Like That Is Leaving?
Whether you’ve been tasked with writing their leaving speech because you know them best, or you just want to say a few things to let a coworker how much you appreciate them, here are some things to consider saying:
- “We’ll all miss you dearly, but we know this is the right thing for you and your family. Wishing you nothing but happiness in the future.”
- “You’re one of the most talented people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. I sincerely believe that great things are ahead for you in your new role.”
- “We’ll never forget all the laughs we had and good times we shared. You’re an amazing person and friend, and I know you’ll do great things.”
- “Thank you for being such a great mentor/teacher/leader. You’ve helped me (and so many others) grow in ways that we never would have without you.”
- “Your positivity and energy are infectious, you will be missed! I hope we can keep in touch and that our paths cross again soon.”
I’m sure there are a million other things you could say as well that are specific to the person, but those are just a few ideas to get you started.
The main thing is to express how you feel, and not to let them leave without saying the things that you really want them to hear.
It’s certainly something you should plan ahead of time and write down though. With emotions running high on their last day it’s amazing how it can feel impossible to find the right words!
Sadness is a natural emotion to feel when someone you care about, whether it’s a family member, friend, or coworker is moving on.
The most important thing is to express how you’re feeling to that person before they go.
Whether it’s through a handwritten letter, telling them face-to-face, or sending them off with a going-away party, make sure to let them know how much you appreciate them.
Also, there are no excuses for not staying in touch with one another, keep in mind that they’re just a text or a phone call away!
Image credits – Photo by Jornada Produtora on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.