Embracing change: What to do when you lose a “work bestie”

Open notebook with a broken heart sitting above two work stations with one empty. Tips for losing a work bestie.

Losing a work bestie is never easy, but it happens to everyone, and I think it’s about time somebody gave you some tips, tricks, and hard-earned lessons to help you cope. 

Having a grownup job can be a challenging, intimidating, and frequently overwhelming proposition.  It can often be a precarious balance of learning on the job, meeting complex expectations, and trying to fit in and feel like you belong. But it gets easier, especially when you develop the coveted “work bestie”.  

The work bestie (or as a certain colleague calls, “the bestie-bop,” you know who you are) is potentially THE most valuable resource at a professional’s disposal. Work besties help you learn, they help you grow, and most importantly, they help you get through the day. They are your confidante, your lifeline, and your support group. 

Makenna and Sam smiling and posing with a Coca-Cola polar bear mascot for the holidays.
Sam Gorodetzer (right) with former associate Makenna Lukens.

And with everything good and worthwhile in life, there will be a day when it all comes to an end, a dark day when your work bestie leaves for another career opportunity.  

Nobody prepares you for the first day that you walk into the office and your work bestie isn’t there. Nor are you ever prepared for the first time you have some tea to share (gossip, for the older generations) and your bestie isn’t there to hear it. Worse even, the first time you have a particularly trying day and they are not there to help you through it. 

I recently lost a work bestie (dare I say a “bestie bestie”) to an incredible job opportunity in a different city, and I have, at times, felt absolutely lost. But I have learned a few lessons during this process that have helped me to cope.

Make the effort to stay in touch 

Losing your work bestie to a different job doesn’t have to mean losing them forever. While they may no longer be there in the workplace with you, they are still the same friend and confidante that you relied upon, trusted, and supported, so stay in touch! 

You can be there for each other even when you aren’t there with each other. 

And even if you find that you two are no longer as close as you once were (which is ok), it is still worthwhile to keep the relationship alive. You never know when you might need each other as professional resources. 

Lean on your other work friends 

It’s fine to miss the work bestie that left, but don’t let that distract you from your friends that remain.  

The friends that you still have at work are the ones you are going to rely on from now on, and they are still relying on you. 

Not only will you need them (and vice versa) to help you get through this transition on an emotional level, but also in terms of workload. With a team member leaving, everyone will need to pitch in to pick up the slack. 

If your other work friends are already “besties,” that’s great! If they aren’t, keep working at it. Eventually they could be. 

Embrace “the replacement” 

I know, I know. “The replacement” really isn’t the best thing to call a coworker, but at the onset of the work bestie grieving process, it might feel appropriate. 

But put yourself in the replacement’s shoes. As you are missing your friend, your new coworker is in a strange new environment, with new people who keep referring to and talking about your old coworker that recently left. That is not an easy position to be in. 

Remember what it was like when you first got to your job and try your best to make the process better for them. Take them under your wing, help them settle in and get their feet under them, and who knows, you may just have a new work bestie in the making.  

Make each other proud 

Last on my list, but incredibly important, is to make your recently departed work bestie proud. 

Don’t sulk that they are gone (for too long, at least), but instead take this chance to grow and develop without them. If your work besties are anything like mine, you rely on them way too much. 

Take this chance to become more independent, autonomous, and valuable to your other coworkers. I can promise you that your bestie is doing the same thing in their new role, and together you can make each other proud of the people you are becoming. 


“Embracing Change: What To Do When You Lose A ‘Work Bestie'” is part of the Ceisler Media & Issue Advocacy series, “A Young Professional’s Survival Guide.”

Sam Gorodetzer

Sam Gorodetzer is an Account Executive in Ceisler Media & Issue Advocacy’s Philadelphia office.

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