Arranging Befitting Farewells during Pandemic

Lieutenant Colonel Golam Towhid Al Kibria

14 July, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Arranging Befitting Farewells during Pandemic

Lieutenant Colonel Golam Towhid Al Kibria

When Rabindranath Tagore, the first Asian Nobel Laureate wrote “Jete Nahi Dibo” (“I Won't Let You Go”), he did not perhaps conceive that a few lines of his 176-line poem would someday become the most recited rhapsody during Bangladeshi farewell programmes.

Farewell is a routine phenomenon. Even though the coronavirus pandemic has reshaped our daily affairs; however, life, per se, hasn’t stopped. Corona has influenced our way of living in manifold and pointed out the degree of redundancy in our lives. Yet, essential activities are going on as per priority with varied space. A farewell programme may seem like a redundancy; however, it is important to commemorate it not only for the outgoing individual but also for the serving personnel as well. After all, it’s a moral issue; it’s a matter of giving importance to an individual’s contribution.

Although the job opportunity has shrunk due to corona, looking out for better employment hasn't stopped. People are constantly changing jobs, getting posted out from one place to another, leaving the country for better education or job opportunity. Whether someone is going on retirement or pursuing a better employment opportunity elsewhere, leaving is always tough, and it begets deep emotions.

When it comes to befitting farewell, we usually consider date and time, venue, decoration, invitation, guest list, transportation, reception, souvenir, food, drinks, gift, and monetary aspects, etc. All these are applicable for corona free environment where there are no restrictions on intermingling.

How do you, then, plan a proper send-off during the pandemic? Due to coronavirus, the entire system of giving farewell has gone through a dramatic change throughout the world; we are also not alien to that. The following aspects may be kept in mind if you’re planning for a virtual farewell nowadays; however, it may vary due to the nature of the work environment.

Get Consent

If you consider that it’s important to say goodbye pleasantly, a befitting farewell can be organised even during the pandemic. Remember to get consent from the senior-most employee/superior about dos and don’ts, expectations, theme, feasibility of the programme, etc. Every company, organisation, institution, etc. have their own farewell culture. Tradition should be followed, and if there is no tradition, then, it’s your chance to make one.

Plan in Advance

As soon as you get the consent, start planning. We may have to adopt arranging this event using social media indefinitely due to the menace of the corona pandemic. Video conferences can be arranged to allow a platform where the outgoing individual can express his or her thoughts, and his or her contribution can also be admired. Start brainstorming about overall planning and conduct, creative ideas including meaningful gifts, attire, and budget so that the party would run without a hitch.

That means covering the basics like which social media platform to use, timing of the event, how many people to attend the online event, what to do, sequence of events, etc. Careful anticipation, pragmatic planning, and thoughtful execution can give the guest of honour a chance to have an event to cherish forever. Don’t forget to keep the party preparation a secret till the last moment for dramatic effect.

Keep It Crisp

Plan to keep it short. The virtual programme can be tricky with a poor internet connection, call drop-offs, technical glitches, background noises, etc. It’s better to finish the event with a high note before the conversation turns to awkward silence. If the conversation naturally flows, it’s a different issue entirely.

Set the Tone

It’s not easy to set the right tone; however, we all have one or two persons in a group who are very good at those things. Selecting such an individual as ‘Master of the Ceremony’ might ease setting the right mood. A carefully selected sequence of events piloted by an enabler can really make the event colourful, and usually, it kicks off by highlighting short biography, contribution, achievement, inspiring story about the departing individual.

Everyone can participate in admiration before inviting the guest of honour to speak. This can be done by keeping formal or informal interaction mood in mind. Powerpoint presentations, including video messages, can be prepared highlighting contribution, and it can be spiced up by sharing pictorial descriptions of funny incidents.

Make it about the Departing Person 

All the events should revolve around the person who is leaving, making it exclusively for him or her. Don't allow other topics to take over. It will shift the focus of the programme, and the outgoing person may not feel comfortable. Your feelings and outgoing person's feelings aren't the same. You may be excited to take a would-be vacant post. However, the outgoing individual may be sceptical about the ensuing future, uncertain condition. Facilitate free expression of emotions; for sure, your time will also arrive soon.

Food and Beverage

You may have to sacrifice food if it’s a virtual farewell. Interestingly, that can also be arranged if you have access to an online food delivery system. Remember to synchronise food delivery time should you plan so.

Ideas for Gift and Souvenir

A souvenir can be arranged according to the tradition of the company, institution, or organisation. Don’t forget outgoing person’s kids and spouse while planning. The gift can be handed over beforehand and arrangements can be done to open it while connected through video conference.

The more people work for an organisation, individual’s love and affection for that organisation increase exceedingly. These feelings move people a lot when they leave. It may be very easy for you and me, but it is different for the person, who is going away. Organised farewell party is the most appropriate way to send off your friends and family members, colleague, co-worker, and loved one.

Life will continue even during the coronavirus pandemic and farewell will always remain a part of our life. With love, affection, and dedication, we can make a befitting farewell if we want to. It only needs sincere desire and careful thoughts.


The writer is a military officer and loves writing on contemporary issues. He can be reached at [email protected]