Grief and Retirement
I lost a younger brother in February. I was so debilitated by my grief that I could no longer do my job. My employer was very supportive but past a certain point the job had to be done and I still could not function. I decided to retire after 35 1/2 years. While I was still working I always thought that the day I retired would be the happiest day of my life. Well, it wasn't.
I was filled with anxiety and dreaded waking up in the morning because it meant trying to figure out how to fill up all the hours of the day. I never married, no children, live in an apartment so my life is pretty low maintenance.
I constantly felt guilty and pressure to be doing something productive every minute. I could not instantly transition from working 10 hours a day to having nothing structured. I began obsessing over everything and worrying constantly about how on earth I was going to live feeling this way for 10 or 20 more years. I had never felt so lost or lonely in my life.
The first month I laid in bed reading obsessively just to keep my mind occupied. Realizing this was not healthy I started forcing myself out of the house.
I joined a fitness center and signed up for an arthritis water class. I'm taking a class at the local college. I arrange to have lunch or dinner at least once a week with a friend. I found a book club and a church.
The doctor upped the dosage of one of my meds and I really believe that has helped a lot.
After four months I am finally starting to feel a little better. My anxiety and obsessive worrying are at a minimum. I keep telling myself that it is OK to watch TV or read as long as I am also getting out, connecting with people, and exercising.
I'm so glad to know that I am not the only one who has suffered through this big life transition. My retired friends all thought I was crazy because they all loved being retired from the get-go. I thought there must be something really wrong with me.
I told the doctor that I really missed the challenge of working, as I had a very complex job. And he said "you actually have a very interesting and challenging job right now, and that is re-inventing your life." I hadn't thought of it that way, but he is right.
That one sentence helped me turn the corner. I think I will be OK.