I’ve noticed that the times, they are a changing. People don’t seem to say goodbye. The norms seem to have shifted. Have you noticed?

I’m in a business group that’s all about “relationship building”. We get together every week and become familiar with each other’s services and recommend each other to our friends and contacts. Yet, when the last four members decided to move on, they did so, quietly. They slip out of the meeting and an announcement is made at the next meeting. It seems so strange to me.

I’m also a member of a writing group (12 years) that shares openly and honestly about life’s challenges and we take a break each summer. In September, a long term member (18 years) sent an e-mail that she would not be returning. She took care to write a lovely e-mail, but I still felt like I’d been dumped by a good friend, via e-mail!

How hard is it to say goodbye in person – at a weekly business group or a deeply personal writing group? We’ll hug and promise to stay in touch. I don’t get it. And, I accept that these feelings may well be my own abandonment issues.

As a kid, we moved alot. I may have had more practice at saying goodbye to more people in my lifetime than you have. We moved every two years, growing up. In our family, we used to joke that Mom didn’t like to decorate. In those days, you’d get a freshly painted apartment when you signed a lease, and when the walls started getting grubby, Mom would show up at my bedroom door with a box and ask me to pack up my favourite things. I learned to travel light and say a nice goodbye. I’d tell my friends where I was moving and we’d promise to stay in touch and sometimes we would. And, sometimes not. It felt tidy and kind to tell them how much I enjoyed them and that I wanted to stay in touch.

Now that I’ve noticed this shift, I’ve even become aware of it at parties. At the end of an evening, I used to practically have to line up to say goodbye to the host. Now, I witness people slipping out quietly. No thanks or goodbye at all. They sure looked like they enjoyed the party. It’s interesting to witness this new cultural norm. What does it mean? I don’t really know. I do know that social media is not enough for me. I crave ‘real’ relationships.

If you and I invest in our relationship, please say goodbye if you want out? Even if it makes you slightly uncomfortable. I know we can do this. Please don’t slip out the back door? Saying goodbye honours what we built and doesn’t burn any bridges, in case we want to travel together in the future. Who knows when our paths will cross again? And, I hope they will.

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