Do you do goodbyes?

Every move deserves a proper goodbye. By proper, I
mean efficient (including the largest possible number of friends and
family) and in style – ideally with a farewell party attached
somewhere along the way.
In that context, one of my most important move-related
projects has been to organise our parting parties – all three of them, as each
of my two older children wanted to have their own (thankfully, the youngest one
doesn’t have any party-related demands yet). We are indulging them, I know, but
it is their first goodbye ever and we have decided to let them choose how they want
to say it. Coordinating three different dates, venues, guest lists and invitations
has been complicated to say the least, but not once in the process have I
considered not having those parties. Saying goodbye to “our”
people here, who have been part of our life for so many years and whom we are going
to miss, has been a given; well worth the logistical nightmare.
At the same time, I have been dreading the impact this
avalanche of goodbyes is bound to have on my – currently fragile – emotional
state. I remember my first farewell party. It was on the last day of school, at
the end of sixth grade, and many of my school friends were moving on to a
different (middle) school. I hosted the party in our garden, in Athens, on a
gorgeous June day. It was a big success, if success is measured by the number
of red-cheeked, sweaty, screaming 12-year-olds running around; their amount of
energy; and the loudness of their laughter. Until the first ones started
getting picked up. 
Then the mood changed, as if we suddenly remembered – as if it
came as a complete surprise – that this was the last we would see of each other
for a while, maybe ever. It did not matter that our new schools were not that far
from each other; in our limited-mobility universe of that time, effectively we would
be out of each other’s lives. There was a lot of hugging and tears and
consoling promises – a heart wrenching experience I remember very clearly, to
this day. I was so heartbroken, that my eyes felt like they were swollen for days.
Still, I had to be the one to throw the party; I wouldn’t have had it any other
Why not? A good friend of mine asked me exactly that
the other day: if a going-away party is so painful, why not just skip it?
Because it would feel like I’m cheating. I would be
depriving myself – and others – of the opportunity to say goodbye. I need a
kind of closure so that I can move on – though closure sounds too final and
maybe is not the right word here. It is important for me to make sure that my loved
ones know that I am not going to disappear from their lives; that I am going to
miss them and be in touch and come back regularly. Pain is a given and it is part
of the process. If I don’t face it now, it is going to catch up with me at some
point anyway. So I might as well get it over with.
What is your take on going-away parties? Do you like small
and cosy ones, big glamorous affairs or prefer to avoid them altogether?


  1. Emilie

    So, I've been meaning to comment on a post for quite a while but I finally got around to actually doing it.
    I'm about half the age of most other people commenting and I'm quite sure that I haven't moved around as much as most other people either, but I've felt foreign for pretty much all my life as well and I threw a massive going away party in September, so I thought I'd share my thoughts.

    First of all: I wish I could be at all 3 parties and I'm sure they're gonna be amazing 🙂 Tell me when the parties are gonna be and I'll make sure to call Philip and Alexia after to chat about that!

    As for my going away party I can say the following…
    I was unsure about how to "celebrate" my departure, partly because I knew I would see a lot of people – the important ones – from time to time when I'm back, so I wasn't sure if a going away party was legit and partly because I was asking myself the precise same question: huge party with everyone, smaller ones with my different circles of friends or no real party at all. Food, drinks? Home, club, restaurant? No clue.
    Finally I decided to throw a party at my mom's office, which is Hans Georg's old apartment in Neubaugasse – spacious. I decided to buy snacks and drinks. And I also decided to invite literally EVERYONE I knew. I invited nearly all my facebook-friends, told my football team, my choir, girl scouts – everyone. I felt that I wanted my going away party to resemble my life in Vienna; and I didn't end up spending a lot of time with single people, but I spent a bit of time with absolutely everyone. Of course some people couldn't or didn't make it to the party, which made me feel sad, but then again there were so many people there that cared about me and wanted to see me one last time, I was overwhelmed and wanted to concentrate on that aspect.
    Throughout the evening I wasn't thinking about the approaching departure. Actually, I wasn't thinking about that on the following day either, which I spent mostly with family and close family friends at home. The point where it hit me, all of it, was a few days after my arrival in England. After all the exciting parts had passed, after I had finished settling in and was alone for the first time. I was lying in bed, thinking about the whole evening and what my last conversation/my goodbye with every single guest had been like. Funnily enough, my wall in my dorm is full of pictures, about half of the pictures were taken at my going away party (polaroids). In retrospective this reveals a lot of how I feel about the party and saying goodbye now, I cherish it. It gives me strength to know that I have a whole bunch of friends back home who I can always turn to, to know that I made a difference during my time in Vienna and that people cared about my departure. The rest of my wall is actually full of little cards/posters I received on that night. Which brings me to my point (finally :P), I think that a going away party is a sad aspect of moving as it means leaving people behind – but at the same time that's exactly what's amazing about it as well. My suggestion is to make some sort of poster/t-shirt/picture/book (yeah, I also had a guest book at my going away party for everyone to leave behind a small entry) to hang up or store in your new house – maybe it can be a Rapid shirt for the kids, with all their friends signature. Or a football trophy. Or Viennese Metro Map for Philip/Alexia's Karate belt. Something they can relate to and which reminds them of their life in Vienna. Of course those things make me miss my life back there, but they also motivate me to create just an amazing life here again. And in Canada. And where-ever I will be in future.

    Sorry for the length, but it's actually nice to write about this kind of stuff and as I said above, been meaning to do so for quite a while.
    Lots of love to Vienna!

    1. Thank you for posting this (and I love the length 🙂
      These are all fantastic, original ideas – I'm working on them (all!)
      Lots of love (still, for another week 🙂 from Vienna

  2. Anonymous

    You are right: One has to do something to mark the end of a chapter in one's life so I totally get your huge effort… I love parties but when I left Geneva I chose not to do a goodbye party..I was so happy to leave and I lived not regret it- A good bye party can be a coffee or something flashy: it all depends on your mood and what is more therapeutic for you… It can be packed with memories like projected photos on the walls or subtle: it is up to you…

    1. I'm looking forward to a party, actually – for reasons that you'll read in my next post 🙂

  3. Anonymous

    considering that our going-away party was our wedding…it was quite big, yes…I think you should throw a party, invite everyone and feel sad at the end. And cry it all out! And I'm so moved by what you wrote and also by Emilie's reaction!

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