Breaking Up is Hard to Do…

It happens in every job, usually in January and June, sometimes at random times throughout the year, but it always happens. I mentioned in my last post that it’s hard not to develop a friendship with coworkers and sometimes it’s better that way because all good things come to an end. You know what I’m talking about, the departing of a coworker at your company.

Whether it’s your partner in crime, your mentor, or someone you absolutely hated and wanted to push them out the door, there is now a void in the atmosphere every day. That last two weeks with them can be an emotional time, especially if you have worked with someone for more than a year or they were your neighbor. Do you talk about it? Do you take offense to it? How is one supposed to cope with this?

Until recently, I thought when certain coworkers left it was the end of the world. How was I going to keep on going without my work spouse? I mean, sitting next to someone for over a year can develops into a great relationship. When it was her time though, I didn’t know how to react, so I ignored it. Said goodbye, so long, farewell, been great playing with you for so long.

Should I have gotten her a card? Flowers? An edible arrangement? I really wasn’t sure how to handle it. I was obviously upset for a while when she was gone, but I still talked to her everyday, she just didn’t sit directly next to me. I guess it kind of works out and all is well, I ultimately realized that it’s okay when people leave, it’s not like they died…or moved to Bali.

So what are your suggestions? Is it kosher to give them a farewell gift? Party? How do you cope with the loss of a coworker?


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  • I recently moved to another job and being on that side is hard, especially since I was the one doing the breaking. I was with that company for about a year and a half and had become close with everyone in our small office of 8. On my last day my boss treated everyone to lunch and they gave me a nice card that everyone signed, along with a gift card for a Vera Bradley bag that I had had my eye on for weeks. I dont think its necessary to get a gift, but a card from everyone or flowers doesn’t hurt. Everyone wants to be acknowledged for the work they have done, so not doing anything but a goodbye at the end of the two weeks is like a “Don’t let the door kick you on the way out!”. You just have to think of the way you would want your exit to play out and do that for your soon-to-be ex(coworker). Breaking up is hard, but sometimes it’s for the best!

    • Thats true. Its really difficult to move away from someone or something that we like. So, its better staying away from them as Michaels has mentioned.

  • Becki C.

    We usually do a casual happy hour when someone leaves, and it’s a fun way to just hang out and not get too sappy. The downside is dealing with the literal and figurative hangover afterward when they’re gone.

  • What a great post! Thanks for making us think about this inevitable issue. I would most certainly give a Thank You or Best Wishes card – the rest I think depends on the individual relationships.

  • Depends on how close you are, and how close they are to you.

  • I think it depends first on your office culture. Every office is different. Some of them do nothing, which personally I’ve always thought was weird. Some do going-away parties or lunches, and some just do cards. So, first, check with office mates who’ve been there a while on the history and culture of the environment. Then, if it seems appropriate, ask the co-worker who is leaving if he or she would be okay with a luncheon and if they would prefer in the office or at a restaurant (that may again depend on the office culture – some places go out to lunch all the time and some like to do potlucks in the office). If you go out to lunch, tell everyone who is going that they should all donate an equal percentage for the honored co-worker’s lunch (usually this will not be more than a dollar a piece, depending on the number going). If a potluck, ask everybody to sign up to bring something (this method is clearly more time consuming than just going out to lunch).

    As for a gift, that is totally personal. If you felt close enough to the co-worker, then go for it. A gift is always appropriate if you are comfortable with it (it doesn’t depend on office culture, because it’s just between two friends). A great gift is something that will either remind the co-worker of your time together or something he or she can use in the new office. Good luck!!

  • Seabear

    I am still a full time student and I have not had a lot of job experience so to be honest it never occurred to me that this would be an issue. Yet, as I think about it, it makes a lot of sense. I have moved several times in my life and I know what it is like to leave more than I know the feeling of being left. However, I can say that as the person leaving I have always really appreciated any little thing that people did for me whether it was a card or maybe just a sincere goodbye. The after math was also important. If I never heard from people again I don’t think poorly of them but it was always wonderful to receive phone calls from those that I had made friendships with. I think the fact that you stayed in touch with your coworker probably meant a lot more to her than any party or card would have.

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