Offers advice on how to handle various exits in life, from death and loss, to firings and breakups with empathy and humor.
“Actually, Geri, it’s you. We have to let you go.” Hearing these words from my dear friend of more than 25 years over the phone on a sunny Friday afternoon left me shaking. It was a first for me – being at this end of a layoff. And it was a gut punch.
Being on the receiving end of a layoff, Geri Reid Suster pondered her next steps and had an epiphany – life is full of exits. From school, from jobs, from relationships, and ultimately from life itself. And those transitions can be rocky or they can be handled with grace, honor, and humor. Still, most people struggle with such endings, getting mired down in thoughts of failure, grief, frustration, regret, and anger. Here, Suster shows readers how they can do better, be better, and live better through all of life’s goodbyes.
Exits are going to happen whether we like it or not, so why not get good at them? How much time did you spend learning to walk, ride a bike, drive a car, and/or interview for a job? Why not spend a little time learning to approach exits with greater skill? An ugly exit not only leaves scars on everyone involved, but also adds to the psychological burden one carries long after the exit. On the other hand, a graceful exit is hard in the moment, but sets us up to feel lighter and healthier on the other side.
Direct and full of advice and suggestions for next steps forward, Suster guides readers through the ups and downs of goodbyes, and carefully reveals the best methods for a smoother, more graceful transition.
Geri Reid Suster has 30-years of experience in business and management specializing in acquisitions and creating operational excellence. Between 2004 and 2006, Geri lost her mom, got divorced, started therapy, sold her house and bought a new one, and left her job as Director of Operations after 18 years. She eventually became VP Operations at ZipLocal, promoted to Chief Operating Officer, and worked there for five years. After jumping to a new technology startup that didn’t pan out, Geri entered a period of reflection that led to an epiphany, In January 2017, as her two boys reached adulthood, she sold everything, bought a huge RV she named Wallace (after William Wallace in Braveheart), and the hashtag #whereswallace was born — familiar to thousands in van life. In 2020, Geri sold Wallace, bought a Sprinter passenger van (named Wufgang #whereswuf) and built her own custom home on wheels with her nephew in 81 days. She spends most of her time in Bend, OR.
PART I: PERSONAL
1 What’s Our Friends-and-Family Plan?
2 When Nuclear Goes Boom
PART II: PROFESSIONAL
3 Abandon Ship or Walk the Plank?
4 Culling the Herd
PART III: “HUMANING”
5 Empty Nester: When the Last Child Leaves
6 The New You—Who Dis?
7 Bolt from the Blue
PART IV: “UN-HUMANING”
8 All Creatures Great and Small
9 When Main Characters Leave
10 I Did It My Way
PART V: EXCEPTIONS
11 Redefining Grace
About the Author
Any life has many types of endings and exits (family, personal relationships, jobs, etc.), and life is equally full of bad exits that resonate for years after. Former business manager Suster’s central thesis is that exits are completely normal, and each person must develop the skills to manage them positively, with the least amount of trauma for all parties. The author tackles common types of exits, as well as the most difficult kinds often ignored or deliberately repressed by society (e.g., leaving others’ expectations behind in order to become one’s authentic self; or death, the ultimate exit). The book is organized by major categories of relationships. Each chapter outlines the common, albeit negative, exit scenarios, then follows with better, more positive strategies. Each section ends with a bulleted summary list of positive examples.
Geri’s book is timely and thought-provoking. With all the change the world has experienced, looking at “exits” openly and honestly is something all of us could benefit from. In every aspect of our lives, exits will happen. Finding grace in the exits is another story. Geri’s book will help you shift the hard exit into a soft ending.
In Graceful Exits, Geri provides a thoughtful and insightful playbook for managing change. As a seasoned HR professional, this book has armed me with the skills to better hold courageous conversations, communicate meaningful expectations, lead with human-centered empathy, and build transformational trust across any organization
Graceful Exits is a heartfelt, must-read book that helps us all navigate the inevitable personal and professional life-changing events so that we emerge better on the other side!
In her beautiful creation of Graceful Exits, Geri has indeed brought the elegance and grace of the written word, encompassing all aspects of exiting or leaving a relationship. Whether it be personal, career, family, pets, illness and even death, she offers insightful and meaningful ideas and strategies for seeing the situation, understanding it and moving past and beyond it. Her compassionate style, wealth of experience and honesty make this book easy to read and integrate.
Vulnerable, funny, deeply personal and raw. From building a case for listing your nonnegotiable in a partner or career to creating rituals around divorce vows akin to wedding vows. This book offers a simple yet divine code to the psychological land mines we create for ourselves and builds a fantastic case for departing and seeing exits honestly and courageously.
10/28/22, Publishers Weekly: This book was featured in a roundup of 12 self-help books for a happier “you-year.”
11/15/22, Zero to Travel Podcast: Geri Suster was interviewed about the book.