Leaving your forum is a difficult thing to do. The bonds that we form in the forum can be quite deep and meaningful. It is good to put some time and thought into how you will say goodbye.
First, you should notify the forum that you will be leaving. It’s recommend that you do this in two phases:
Initially contact your moderator and discuss your departure confidentially. This is a courtesy to the moderator so that they have time to contemplate your departure and the possible impact on the forum. The moderator may subsequently also have input on when or how to break the news to the forum at large.
And secondly, of course, you should tell the forum itself. This is best done in person at a forum meeting. It is usually done one or two months prior to your departure, rather than walking into your last forum meeting and blindsiding everyone. Also, please note that an email message or a voice message is not an appropriate method to use to say goodbye since they are so impersonal. On the other hand, if you want to telephone each member personally outside the forum meeting, this would be a suitable alternative. Please be sure you contact ALL of the members and talk to ALL of them individually. Otherwise, you may leave hurt feelings in your wake with the people you omit.
Next is the actual goodbye. A common practice on this is that you attend the beginning of the meeting, say your farewells, and then leave. In some forums, the departing member will give a final presentation to the forum, following the standard Presentation format, and talk about what is next in their life. You may also want to take time to personally thank each member of the forum, perhaps even going around the room to share something that each individual did or said that was particularly meaningful to you.
Some of us are gift-givers, and would like to offer a gift to each forum member. In one forum, a departing member gave each of the others a beautiful, hand-carved wooden kaleidoscope. He explained that the forum had helped him to see his life from new perspectives, just as a kaleidoscope lets us see the beauty in simple things reflected from multiple viewpoints. A different forum member decided to gift each of his peers with a book that was particularly meaningful to him.
One quick side note: if a forum member is leaving under unpleasant circumstances (perhaps they were voted out), having them attend their last meeting to say goodbye is generally NOT a good idea. It could be quite uncomfortable for everyone. An exit interview with the moderator or the moderator-elect is a good alternative in this case.
After the goodbye: Some forums like to have an annual “Forum Reunion” where they invite all prior forum members and their spouses to accompany the forum to dinner, hopefully fostering a pleasant evening. It’s a great way to stay in touch, and a means of catching up on what’s been happening in the lives of former members. If your forum doesn’t currently do this, consider offering it as a suggestion. You might start a new, fun tradition in your forum!