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Retired: Lost, Sad....Very Sad

by Jim
(Southcoast, MA)

After years of working, my wife told me that I could retire at the end of 2014, since after years of saving, we could afford to. I disliked my job, especially the 40 mile each way commute.


Back in 2005, on a lark, we decided to take a vacation in Arizona. We immediately fell in love with the southwest and eventually bought a home in a 55 plus community for when we retired. For the next several years we spent all of our vacations in our retirement home, looking forward to the day when we could move there permanently, or at least the winter months. (We are from the Northeast.)

The day I retired we started a 4 day drive to Arizona. Almost immediately I felt completely lost, a fish out of water, (my wife's term.) I missed my children even though they're grown, but still live only a few miles from where we raised them. I wasn't interested in any activities, like golf or tennis. The community offered so many things, I just didn't show any interest. Volunteering wasn't a real option either for a number of reasons.

After a couple of months, my wife knew I was in a very deep funk. The lack of structure my job offered, along with missing my children made every day very difficult. She even bought me 2 books on retirement, but nothing seemed to help.

To make a long story shorter, after many hours of discussion, we sold our retirement home. I am wracked by sadness and guilt over giving up the house. My wife loved the house, and it was probably the only thing she truly wished for in almost 40 years of marriage, and I took it away from her, because I couldn't cope with retirement.

It's a very sad time for both of us. Hopefully, we can rent a place in Arizona for the winter, then perhaps I won't feel as bad about giving up our home.

Being back in the Northeast has done nothing to change my outlook. The days are long, and sometimes I get very weepy. The best part of the day is bedtime, because I get to lie down in the dark, and for a few hours I don't have to try and fill the day.

Apologies for the long letter. Would sure like to hear from anyone who's had a similar experience. Maybe it's just time to get myself together and quit feeling bad for myself. Easier said than done.

Comments for Retired: Lost, Sad....Very Sad

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Your are certainly not alone
by: Len ..Pacific

I hope that your day is better as your read comments on this site. I still work but will retire in less than a year.

I read your message and realized that it is part of what I might not be able to deal with then. Not there yet so I just don't know what to expect. However, that is what I love about this site. People from all over sharing experiences, ideas etc. hoping to help out.

Hang in there and keep reading. You will find a way and would feel better. Best wishes!

Not alone
by: Anonymous

Hi there, I can completely relate. Even though I always hated working and couldn't wait to retire I now feel lost and struggling to find my place in the world.

One thing that helps is to look around at all the seniors living in poverty, no loving family, no money for vacations or treats, I try to imagine how depressing it would be to be living in a horrible little room all alone. I know this is extreme but It does help get some perspective and reframe my situation.

Please take care and try to go out for a walk with your wife, I know how hard it is to pull yourself out of the darkness but time will work it's magic, message me if you like, hugs

You Are Not Alone
by: Anonymous

My husband and I are also from the northeast. We were hell bent on leaving NY due to the high taxes and extreme winters.

We were planning on heading south. We visited a few places, but it's easy when you know that you're returning to your family from a vacation. The thought of leaving family was a very hard concept. Visiting the south one time just before Christmas and that clinched it.

The Christmas music playing and thoughts of holidays without my family really started to hit home. Returned home and decided to stay put.

Every now and then we talk about what it would be like down south in an active adult community, but decided that we could always rent for a few months to get our fill, then return to our "true" home.

I definitely feel your pain and would probably have done the exact same thing!

Right there with you
by: Sandy/Rochester

Jim - I am so sorry for your pain and am traveling a similar path of which I have posted. Notice I say "am" traveling, not "have traveled", as I think for some of us, it is a long journey.

I retired from a lucrative and very stressful corporate job and then worked part-time at a non-profit, but a few years after retirement, something hit me and I felt myself in a terrible place.

I missed work and could not focus on anything but the poor decision I made (or thought I made). So....here's what I did and I hope it may give you some ideas:

1. I began seeing a therapist - although I am sure your wife and family/friends love you, there is something very freeing about talking to someone who has no history with you. And that person can push back on some of your thoughts.

2. I went to my primary care physician who ruled out any physical issues and referred me to a psychologist. I have since been placed on medication which I won't take forever. For now, however, it helps me look forward instead of looking back.

3. I reconnected with friends and family I had been absent from. Some will welcome you back - others may have filled their life in since you were not there in their life - it's OK.

4. I joined this site which is interesting to see you are not alone and also refreshing to see so many people enjoying their retirement.

5. I joined several meetups in my area and go to events.

6. I found part-time work that I enjoy.

7. I exercised and put my body first.

8. I spent more time with my kids who live near me - what a treasure.

9. I have suggested to our town that they form a local organization of recent retirees who can socialize and also volunteer in the town. Still waiting for a meeting with town supervisor.

Given all that, I still struggle with retirement but we can't go back. I realize also, that I am remembering only the happy things about the job, not the frustrations and unfairness that occurred.

I felt like I had lost my "purpose" but is one's purpose in life just to work for someone else?? That question really haunts me because my job was everything to me. I had no hobbies, few friends and all my activities revolved around me being better at work - seminars, reading, continued education, networking - all for work. No wonder it has taken so long to untangle from that.

Give yourself time and reconsider your Arizona decision once you have taken a few steps. At least that is not an irreversible decision. Perhaps you needed a place with more social involvement but still in Arizona.

I wish you the best - you are not alone. If you feel like connecting, I am a member of this site. Please don't give up - find a way to enjoy where you are.

Time to take action
by: Elna Nugent Lenox, MA

Dear Retired and Sad:

It sounds as if you have a nagging illness that we usually refer to as depression. Depression is actually anger turned inward and is unexpressed. And anger is- in fact -a way of expressing a deep searing hurt that you have seldom -if ever- faced never mind express.

One safe way to express this anger/hurt is to take a piece of paper and vigorously write down the things in life from early childhood on that you felt were extremely unfair-even cruel and damaging to your spirit. Let it all out onto the paper with all guns blazing. Swear at the paper if you want to. ( Do all of this when you are by yourself)

When you manage to get all this out, tear up the paper into shreds. Some people burn it in the fireplace. Consider what you have that is important to you. For example, If you didn't have your wife, what would you be doing? It is obvious you care about her alot. Every day you could wake up mornings and think" What can I do today to help my wife enjoy this da?. What can I do for my body that would make me healthier. You could start by taking a daily walk with her, and take turns choosing different places to do it.

Then "Take thee to a well recommended psychological counselor!" and be astounded at how much better you will feel in just a few weeks. Love and blessings to you and your wife.

You're Not Alone
by: Patti/La Grange Park, ILYour Name/Location

I have written this same thing to other people: you are not alone. I don't know if that offers you any comfort or reassurance, but many people have struggled the way you are struggling.....including me.

Like Wendy said, it does get better. There is hope. Seeing a doctor and getting on some depression meds would be a great place to start. It doesn't make you weak, it just makes you a human being who needs some help to jumpstart his life again.

I am three years out in my retirement journey. I've slowly adjusted to not having my time structured for me and I've come to appreciate not having the stress of my job anymore. I miss the people but I do reach out and have lunch/dinner every couple of months with one of my work friends and that helps a lot.

I have friends who are on the go from sunup to sundown - always running around, never home, never enough time to do everything they want to do. I don't have that personality. I had to accept that I am going to be home a lot of the time because I don't have that personality where I can't sit still. I actually have the opposite personality....I sit too much. So I have to make a concerted effort to get up out of my chair and do something - go for a walk, clean something, go window shopping, go to the library. It takes a conscious effort. But it has gotten a LOT easier.

Bottom line is that I am really enjoying being retired now, although it still takes work on my part to fill the hours because I don't have a natural go-go-go personality. But it was a hard, hard transition for me. I'd wake up with a knot in my stomach and my first waking thought was "what the heck am I going to do with all this time today?"

Just hang in there, it gets easier and better with time. And see the doctor if you haven't already. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

so sorry
by: Rose Raintree Arlington Wa.

I am saddened by your story and so wish you had been told by someone to not do anything drastic for the 1st year after you retired. This is well known sage advice for any major change or loss in your life, to wait a year before making any drastic decisions or changes.

Retirement is a loss and one has to give themselves time to grief and rebuild. I retired after working for 45 years and the first 2 years I was a basket case in some ways. I had worked and that was my life and when it was gone I didn't know what to do with myself.

But I began to extend beyond my comfort zone slowly and began gardening, taking short trips, volunteering, getting out and meeting new people. And today after going on 5 years I am so happy I am retired, but you do have to make an effort and push yourself beyond what has been routine and comfortable for major part of your adult life and created a new identity and lifestyle.

As I was telling two of my wonderful neighbors as we are out walking our dogs this morning, nothing could make me ever go back to work, I am so happy.

And I need that when I retired it forced me to let go of the home I loved and I bought a mobile home in a 55+ park that I could afford living now on just SS income down from $75.000/yr income. Why no savings well that is what caring for kids as a single Mom did for me plus not really seeing how fast these years would arrive.

When I retired I not only had to recreate myself, make new friends, but also learn to live on a very strict budget that no longer could I afford to travel and spend as I had hoped to do when I retired.
But like all seasons of life those who succeed and become successful and happy are those who embrace where they are and find ways to make it not only work but discover these can be the best years of your lives.

Your children are important but they have their lives and your and your wive's is not over either, but it going to require you to pick up and move forward and discover what others have there is a time for everything and in those times new adventures and experiences that find us still growing, learning, changing and loving life.

God bless you I pray you will do just that for your sake and your wives, these are precious years don't waste them by holding onto a past you need to let go of and move into the future.

after retirement blues
by: mildred/tn

Run, do not walk, to your nearest psychiatrist for help. I did after I retired and had tried so many things that did not work out. My psy told me to go back to my childhood and find what made me happy.

I did and it was dolls and babies. I have told this here before. I took a doll making course but still not satisfied.I started a very small day care in my home. Still not what I was searching for ,I became a foster parent for babies.One day I got a 6 day old infant boy who needed me and boy did I need him..At age 60 I got to adopt when he had turned 2 and been thru the courts to terminate parents rights. It has been a joy.

Now he is 18 and I am 77. What a life we have had. I would do it all over again...

YOU have to find what is right for you to get satisfaction. I think your wife just wants u to b happy no matter where u are..Praying u find it.

You are not alone...
by: Wendy

If you've read even a few of the stories left by retirees (under the Anxiety section of this site), you will find that this strangeness isn't just you.

You WILL get past it, just takes time. Sure wish you hadn't sold the Az home already... you could have travelled home for a bit, then tried again. BUT -- you can rent just as easily.

Please see your doctor... meds aren't the answer, but they might make your transition easier. You just need a little help.

Sending prayers your way!

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