As soon as we ceased meeting attendance we were cut off from our so-called 'friends' (I hope they're royally ashamed of themselves; they know who they are). We were in limbo; we still believed in God, still wanted to serve him in some way, but we had virtually no one other than Hobo Ken and Iknowall to call friends. Our children needed some stability as the parents of their friends acted as if they didn't exist any longer.
We only briefly entertained 'fading', but it wasn't for us, we just wanted to get on with our lives and we didn't feel it was fair on our children to always have one eye looking over our shoulders (particularly because of birthdays), so once we started going to church we knew we'd be disassociating. Why should we go through a prolonged period of measured non-activity JW-wise just so that there might be a chance we'd still be able to say hello to certain people in the supermarket, should our paths cross.
If the relationships in your life and totally dependent upon your performing certain activities to a certain standard, then it's time to have a long, hard look at those relationships...
We chose our own personal and family freedom. We chose the right to decide who we associate with, where we go to worship God, the celebrations we choose to observe or not observe. We chose those things over the conditional and fickle relationships that thrive in Kingdom Halls.
Gail and I were talking about this last night with her non-JW father; we've lost a lot but it has been absolutely worth it to have freedom.