aww, please don't stay away! I know it is disconcerting if you are away for a while, come back and lots of new names and a new 'follow' feature as well.
As far as a number of the 'old' names not being around, as I am sure you know and understand a lot of us have multiple health issues, and sometimes new ones arrive and slap us around a bit, so we disappear for a time, but come back again.
Can I explain and reassure you about the 'follow' feature. This is something that the whole of HU, in their wisdom, have introduced because they say, that lots of people who are thinking of joining hang around the forum to see how it works, what kind of questions and replies are posted and generally get a feel for the forum. So if a new person or a present member finds a post or discussion interesting they can click on the + button on a persons profile, which means they are following the posts which that person posts, or follow any discussions which are taking place, as they are notified by email when the person they have chosen to follow, posts. You do not have to follow anyone, and soon HU are introducing a feature where a member can choose not to be followed. HU have also mentioned that some people are too shy or lacking in confidence to post and just choose to read and learn, and this 'follow' feature makes it easier for them to do that. There has been a lot of discussion about it, so if you don't want to be followed by anyone, then shortly you will be able to opt out of that, on your profile. We will all get notified of that at the time.
I agree, as do many others that BLF was a more user friendly and homlier forum before the last change, but you do get use to it, you just need to keep practising and navigating your way around. If you have been away for a while it is more difficult but it does come back to you.
I don't know what age you are, but I am sure you are not too told, as there is a wide age range of people here. I am not techie at all, but have learned some things, and if something is not clear to you, just post a question and I guarantee someone will be along to answer you.
I think the humour section is a vital part of this community and there are lots of jokes and funnies posted, which we all need. A good laugh or even a smile raises the spirits, so stick around and enjoy meeting new people as well as ones that are familiar to you. I rarely post at this time, as I should be in the land of nod, but for the third night in a row I am being kept awake by a combination of gale force winds and pain, so decided to see if anyone else was up. Your post was a few hours ago, so you are probably sleeping by now. I hope you have a lovely Christmas, and better health in 2015, and sorry you are going through a hard time right now.
hugs from Huggs xx