Farewells are always hurtful, no matter how strong is your wish to leave the place or people. Even though we know it prior hand, when the moment arrives, it tests one's emotional balance. Memories of the place and the people attack us from all directions and try to destabilize us. Its not difficult to stand strong against that attack. However, its challenging how one perceives the whole thing and reciprocate.
Farewell messages are usually on positive note. Everyone recollects the good moments they had with the person leaving and share with the group. I have been part of number of farewells. Each time people speak about the strengths of the person leaving, including my own speech, I feel all that could have been said at least once when the person did not decide to leave the organization. When we keep things unsaid for long and at once when we say them during the farewell time, we as well as the person leaving realize the effect of all that unsaid. It gives great feeling to heart, both for the speakers as well as the person about whom its all said. Even though the effect is not generally to a decision-changing level, it certainly to the level that for a moment it sends across strong nostalgic waves. When the message is delivered on the day of farewell, the decision may not be impacted. But when the same message is said to the person when he is around, there may be are chances that the decision is slightly impacted, provided the message is genuine enough and said with a genuine tone.
We cannot forever stop people from leaving organizations. However, as along as people are around, being appreciative and expressive in good terms definitely helps, both personally as well as professionally. Personally that we all feel good about ourselves and make people feel good about themselves. Professionally that there is increased outcome and contribution from the individuals as well as teams.
Once in a while, we must try to reach out to people and share our frank feedback to them. Both positive and negative, in a way that reaches them. It really helps. Keeping anything in mind and not saying it only derails the spirit around.