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Friendships are one of your life’s most precious gifts. Knowing someone for many years and sharing good times, bringing in the New Year, taking trips together, births, deaths, and your personal feelings, creates a bond that can be as strong as the closeness you feel to your blood-relatives.

Because ties to another person can run so deep when an extraordinary friend moves away, it can feel like a tremendous loss. But there are concrete measures you can take to ensure that you and your friend remain close to one another in spite of the miles that separate you.

Before your special friend packs up and moves away, a going away party is always a fantastic way to let him or her know how much this close relationship has meant to you. It’s time to invite all your friend’s office buddies, family members, and your mutual friends to a party. This type of farewell can make a situation that is bittersweet become a symbol of how appreciated and loved the guest of honor is in your community.

You may want to hold the gathering at your home, a restaurant, or another public party space. Along with refreshments and appetizers, it’s always fun to have a festive cake decorated with the honoree’s name and a symbolic saying or figure that everyone at the party will recognize as emblematic of their friend’s personality, vocation, or pastime.

Guests may bring small, thoughtful gifts for the friend who is moving away, such as:

• an address book with everyone’s address, email moniker, and telephone number
• a journal in which every guest can write a short “goodbye” note
• a picture frame in which to put a group picture of everyone at the party

Or, everyone can contribute toward one present such as a gift card for buying items for the new home; a set of leather luggage tags; or a work of art by a local artist.

Don’t forget that as hard as it may be to have a close friend move away, the anxiety and stress of moving to a new location, a new job, and making new friends are even more troubling for the mover.

Some things friends can do to alleviate the hassles of moving include:

• offering to help pack up household items
• watching the friend’s children for a weekend so he or she can work on organizing for the move
• taking a supper to the friend’s house for a few days before the move
• researching family-friendly activities in and around the area to which the friend is relocating

It might be fun to set up a flexible schedule of calls, emails, conference calls, and funny cards for a few months just so the friend feels supported, cared for, and thought about as he or she navigates the “moving to a new place” waters. Email, Facebook, texting, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and so many more social media sites make staying in touch easier than it has ever been.

Though it may sound foreign in today’s culture, writing a note that is sent by “snail mail” can be a delightful surprise for your dear friend. Finding a card or letter in the mailbox is so rare that your friend is bound to be surprised and uplifted to receive a real letter or card.

Many friends plan an occasional trip together to enjoy a vacation and to catch up with what has transpired in their lives since they were last together. This type of in-person reunion always makes a big difference in ensuring that friendships stay vibrant and active. From going to a state park and camping together to meeting at someone’s home that is centrally located, finding a way to unite does not have to be exorbitantly costly or complicated.

Anyone who has a friend who moves away will experience these feelings:

• When you finally see your friend, you feel there’s a rush to make up for the time you’ve been apart.
• You’d really like for everyone else to not intrude on your catch-up time.
• You remember how really close you and your friend are.
• You realize that you always have each other’s backs.

Close friendships can survive, even across long distances. As a greeting card once said, “True friends are never apart. Maybe in distance but never in heart.” And, what about that old camp song? “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”

It is worth every minute you invest in keeping close ties with treasured buddies, so do whatever it takes to make sure the ties remain tight.

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