Grief and Retirement

by Patti

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.

Comments for Grief and Retirement

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by: Patti

Thank you everyone for your supportive comments.
When every retired person you know is so busy and ecstatically happy to be retired, you start to think maybe you are a nut case.

The doctor told me that many, many people struggle with this transition but I didn't believe him. Now I do.

I have good days and bad days and terrible days, but I had those when I was working too. I didn't become an expert at my job overnight, and I won't become an expert at being retired overnight either. Everything has a learning curve.

It also helps to say to myself "what can I do today, this week, this month, to prevent future regrets?" Most of the time it propels me to do something.

But finding out that there are other people who feel like me has been the best help of all!!!

by: Carol

Congrats on all you have done and are doing to take care of yourself. Success is sweet!

Sometimes its hard to know the tipping point of "lounging" too much and, for me, being "out there" running around too much.

I lost my Mom 2 years ago. I didn't know grief was going to make me such a wack-a-moe. A the time I second guessed everything. Now I see the season I went thru as "normal" grief period.

I'm glad that I took care of myself as best I could thru it all. Like you. Blessings!

Over the Blues~~
by: Sharyn~~~CANADA

Dear Patti,

U obviously have a wonderful doctor! A doctor who gave u excellent advice. Sounds like u have followed that advice and your retirement is looking good.

Glad to hear u r doing productive self improvement activities to keep yourself busy~ Thats' awesome, keep up the good work!

Sorry to hear your brother passed, u were very close to him l gather, no-one will replace him, however, u have wonderful old friends & u will make new ones as time goes by but it takes time to transition from a career to one of retirement!

Don't be in a hurry, take yur time, prioritize, plan each day, celebrate each holiday everyone with all those who r important in your life!

Have a terrific Thanksgiving, it is not far off, with whomever u please, just make it enjoyable & fun. U will have a fulfilling rest of your life & u can always talk to us here at RETIREMENT ONLINE~~ God bless u~~~~

You pretty much told my story
by: Nancy

Thanks for sharing. I like that phrase from your doctor. I've been helped so much with your story and stories like that.

I was like you the first few months, anxiety and depression. I liked what you said about it being okay to read and watch TV as much as you want. I try to get out and go to the exercise room every day at the community center. I may try to find a swimming class at the Y.

This is a learning curve, reinventing myself. Need to be gentle with myself.

by: Anonymous


Welcome to the world of retirement. Your post expressed what so many of us have felt during the transition phase. Your feelings are "normal".
It is nice to know you are beginning a new life in a productive and positive way.

Please click on the "Friendship Here" link on the right side of this website and join us for fun.

Good For You
by: Dean

Patti, I am sorry for the circumstances surrounding your retirement. That had to be difficult. Your story will be very encouraging to many others.

My wife and I have been retired for a year and a half. She stays so busy that she doesn't have time to feel guilty or depressed. I can relate to some of the feelings you've described.

After a lifetime of always having things that have to be done it's a big challenge having so much discretionary time to fill. You have found the answer. Find something to do and keep spending time with other people.

It's good to relax because you've earned it but too much idle time isn't good for anyone.

Grief and Retirement
by: Anonymous


I went through a similar experience, losing my husband shortly after we retired. Life changed completely and all our retirement dreams vanished in a moment.

I volunteer for a grief support group now, one way to pay it forward. Is there something you can do in remembrance? I certainly recommend a grief support group for you if there is one in the area.

There is some risk of physical manifestations of grief, as well as the emotional ones. Be gentle with yourself if that restricts your activity at times.

If you want to explore sharing please feel free to email me fern underscore phillips at yahoo dot com.

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