Have you ever had to leave an online or offline group or class? Or have you had someone leave and you are still in the group? Things have changed with the loose structure of some groups today and with the internet. Sometimes people come and go without your knowing and you are left without a sense of being able to process the change or say goodbye. How do you get some closure for yourself and others?
Let me give you a couple of examples. A couple of years ago, I belonged to a group for people who were unemployed. The group offered support and up to date information needed to re-enter the market place. Though I was self-employed as a freelance writer, I enjoyed the cutting edge speakers and information about the business world.
I made a special connection with the leader and we visited from time to time. I had missed a few meetings because of other commitments and one day when I came, he was gone. I was shocked and disappointed that I did not get a chance to say goodbye and to thank him for his positive impact on my life.
In another situation I belong to an online Facebook group and felt bonded to the members who had been in it for a year. Suddenly one of the members was no longer there. Again, I was shocked and disappointed. I felt a sense of loss about her absence.
Later I received an email from her that said,”I had no clue it would be so difficult to leave the group. I feel like I have lost my best friend(s) in the world. I never thought about grieving in the sense of leaving a group, but that sure is what happens.”
In the internet world and in general, it seems that people come and go. We bond and depend on them and then they are gone. How can you get closure if you leave a group or someone leaves a group you are in?
3 Tips to Process the Transition
1. Share with an empathetic friend what you miss about that person. Express your feelings. At the time of the leader’s departure, I shared my sadness with another member in the group.
2. Find a way to contact them if you can. Maybe you can get an address or email. If you don’t know how to find them, contact a mutual friend or the head of the group.
3. Write a note to them letting them know you miss them. Be specific about what you miss. For example, I found the leader who left my group through LinkedIn. I sent him an email to share some specific things I appreciated about him.
If you are the one leaving and you miss your group there are healthy ways to deal with your feelings.
5 Tips to Leave a Group in an Emotionally Healthy Way
1. Let people know you are going. In my Facebook group, one of the members told us they were leaving. This gave all of us an opportunity to respond and to say goodbye. Other friends, who take breaks from Facebook for a while, will post it on their wall so others know.
2. Let yourself have your feelings. Whenever you don’t have something that you value, you will feel a sense of loss even if you made the choice to leave.
3. Share your sense of loss with someone or write about it. If you left without saying goodbye and you feel sad about leaving a group, it helps you to share your feelings with someone.
4. Write the people in the group who you miss and tell them what you appreciated about them.
5. Talk to someone about what you miss about the group or write to process your feelings.
Think through how you are going to replace the support you had. You don’t always have to replace the support. Some relationships and groups are for a season and then that season comes to an end and that is okay.
Do take time though to process your thoughts and feelings and to seek closure for yourself whether it’s you are the one left behind or you are the one choosing to leave. You will be emotionally healthier and you will keep your relationships strong.
What about you? What has been your experience? Share with us in the comments below.