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Casual at Work Ways to Say Goodbye in English

So we say goodbye. Goodbyes have a particular role to play in mediating the balance of the network, and they often reflect the degree of change the group will experience. For example, if you're headed out the door to pick up a pizza for dinner, you might say "Be right back," or if you leaving a friend at the end of a night out, "See you later" could suffice. Both of these types of goodbyes indicate that the shift in the network is small and temporary.

It's acknowledged that the person may be departing, but that they're expected back—and will soon occupy their place in the social group again. But for long-term departures, more formal ceremony is needed. If the actual word "goodbye" has a sense of finality to it, it's not by accident. It's a contraction of "God be with ye," which conveys a blessing or prayer or hope that the person upon whom it's bestowed will travel safely.

It's almost a plea. Today's assorted methods of electronic communication mean that separations are only as permanent as they are allowed to be, but there was a time when departure from loved ones forced you to consider the very real possibility that the parting could be permanent, or very, very, very, very extended. The gravity of this occasion was marked by a ritualized send-off in the form of a party or feast or an observance of some sort.


From wakes to wedding receptions to going-away parties, the network must gather to reconcile the interruption to the existing connections. People meet and engage in exercises of remembrance which reinforces the sense that change is impending. In the case of long-term goodbyes, rituals also serve to confirm the connection of the individual to the group, which is particularly important because in leaving an established network, she'll enter a transitory stage.

Oh sure—she'll have a new role assigned to her and new responsibilities but there will be a period of adjustment before she truly belongs to the new network. Even if she's leaving to take on the same role elsewhere e. But once you know someone, it's hard to unknow them—you might grow apart, your relationship might change, but if you know someone, have chosen to know someone and recognized her role within your network, you will always know that person.

Rituals associated with long-term partings confirm deep rooted connections with the group. Goodbyes can consequently become an exercise in expressing intimacy. Goodbyes between close parties are scripted. Does the following sound familiar? I need to go. Stay for just a little while longer. While this example may relate more closely to a temporary parting, the idea that the leaving should be protested in some way to confirm the individual's meaning to the group is a routine part of goodbyes between close company.

At a formal gathering, not all members may cluster around the departee to offer objections—this responsibility falls to those closest to the individual—but those that do express dismay at the change may do so in the form of guilt or anger or sorrow. These emotions, similar to the plea to stay just a little longer, function to remind the individual has contributed to the network and will be missed. A lot can be conveyed by a failure or an unwillingness to protest in some form—and really, if a meaningful connection doesn't exist between separating parties, goodbyes can be short and completed quickly.

The parting process is delayed between members for whom the separation will create the greatest interruption.


At the end of the day, it's not an easy experience for anyone. No one could tell us what was happening, what the prognosis was, or what we should be doing. We left for dinner. Then the nurse called to say the situation had turned critical. My brother drove us to the hospital, but not nearly fast enough. He dropped me at the door and I ran.

More Than Goodbye

My brother, sister, and I walked behind the curtain to find his tired year-old body, but he was gone. We stood together and thanked him for never missing a Christmas. We thanked him for always being there. We thanked him for being our wonderful Grandpa. We said all the things you say to someone when they have only a couple days left to live. But it was too late. The last lesson that old man left me to figure out was death.

I was 32 and, up to that point, my family had been intact. That goodbye is a summation of events, right? At the end of an evening with friends it puts a pin in the last several hours of joy.

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Now, more than ever, when I depart from loved ones and friends, I make sure to get the hug and I make sure I say goodbye. What would it say if I were acknowledging their deaths? Because, it was absolutely not fine. Or would facing that bittersweet conversation head on have given them some kind of peace at the end? Was there any closure or finality they needed that could have made them more comfortable? I doubt either of them pondered whether I loved them, but in saying that goodbye I could have let them know how deeply they were loved.

Just a few weeks ago I made a quick stop at the grocery store with my daughter. I felt instant tears. Instant hot, streaming tears that soaked my face and took my breath away. I turned down an empty aisle, gripped the cart, and sobbed. My 8-year-old daughter stared at me in the fumbling way I do to her when she falls apart out of nowhere over seemingly nothing at all.

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  • Four years and ten months later I marvel at how that song still breaks me the moment those first notes are struck. I was ill-equipped to handle that reality. It was a year before I could feel the ground beneath my feet.

    Grief fills up all the empty spaces in your heart and head, so it likely would have found something else to wrap its gnarled hands around for me to obsess about. Almost a year after their deaths, my family moved out of our home and put everything in storage so that we could spent six months traveling. We spent that time exploring the entire east coast and redefining how we love, work, play, and live.

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    We bought a home. We reduced to a single car. I may not have gotten to say goodbye, but their deaths gave me the freedom to say hello to a whole new mindset. And in that way, they're still with me every day. Want to read more stories from people navigating a new normal as they encounter unexpected, life-changing, and sometimes taboo moments of grief?