Retirement: Life Phases Out, Sense of Loss

by Mike/Spokane WA

My sense about life as we age is that the earlier "modes" of life are mostly all centered around work, career, a home and children to raise. As all of that fades away you are left with a big emptiness that asks to be filled, and it isn't always that easy to fill!

The earlier life phases were mostly filled for us, society dictates, family needs dictate, your job dictates what you are, who you are, and you don't have to try and figure out much. It is all waiting for you every day and all you have to do is "show up" and it was life.

Now, after all that goes away you have nothing dictating to you what/who you are any more. So the sense of loss and no easy answers on how to fulfill your life any more can be painful.

You are also wiser now and not so gullible, so you see through the phoniness of people more, and it isn't as easy to trust others as it once was. I have serious trust issues with humanity any more. It seems like the world of human"kind" is mostly a rather unfeeling, selfish lot that is nice "as long as you have something to give".

Answers? I wish I knew.

I write a lot, used to paint (landscapes). My life partner (ex wife) still works and is 6 years younger so she can't relate to me anymore. My own grown kids won't have anything to do with me. It is like, once you retire you don't even exist. I think the only real "answer" (if there is one) is some sort of inward journey, spiritual or something, although there is so much baloney in those realms it can be difficult to find that inner experience that can replace the outer experiences we once had (and no longer work).

Best wishes, maybe try journaling, it is better than nothing and is one way to get your feelings down on paper, then it "feels" like you are doing something worthwhile in a way.

Comments for Retirement: Life Phases Out, Sense of Loss

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To Mike in Spokane
by: Linda - Florida

Mike, I feel EXACTLY like you! I feel unnecessary or not needed. I've tried to get out and do things aND nothing does it for me. I'm an introvert. Currently in therapy. Thank God for my dogs.

Your words touched something in me
by: Natalie

A lot of what you say is felt by many retirees; I have talked with my friends, and they feel the same. But what works best is relating to other people; go through a lot of frogs and you may find a prince or princess to have as a friend.

Sense of loss
by: Louisewt


You have made a lot of valid points. Since children our parents prepared us for each stage in life. By the time we finished school we were prepared to go out into the world and forge our own paths. Like you said, we went to work, some got married, some of us raised children. The beat went on for years and years. Our employers told us what to do.

Then the end of our working career. I know I dreamed my entire working life to be FREE of the daily grind and thoughts of sandy beaches and palm trees loomed in my brain. I was laid off, could not find another job, and forced into retirement.

That was 6 years ago. I don't feel particularly satisfied being retired. I have no sense of urgency as the days roll by. I have no real purpose or any important things to do. No one prepared us for retirement. Some have lifetime dreams but most of us just worked for a living with no thoughts of what retirement would be like. Those hours filled our time.

We need retirement school! Retirement Disney World. Retirement school buses to take us somewhere fun everyday! Retirement day camps. Even if there were place like small factories where seniors could assemble items for charitable purposes for a few hours a day.

Reinventing a life in retirement
by: Linda, North Carolina

I can definitely relate to what you are saying. I did pursue a spiritual path for several years and found that it filled a hole but now feel I'm on to a next chapter just not sure what that is.

My job seems to be finding things to do to enrich my life but usually ends up just filling my calendar to stay connected. I have a part-time job (10-15 hrs a week) at a local senior center and try to get inspired from the people I meet there, I volunteer at a fair-trade store weekly, I volunteer at several other local venues. Of course there's exercising several times a week and I enjoy going out to listen to jazz.

I don't have a life partner or children so it's up to me what I do with my life. I think staying healthy is a priority for me. I think I miss using my brain more than anything! Lol. I journal every day but just to let go of anything on my mind. I feel like I need to do something creative to enrich my life, just don't know what that is yet.

A long time ago someone gave me some good advice when I wasn't sure which direction to go in. He said "just pick one and try it, you can always change it if it doesn't work out. ". So I guess that's what I need to do and maybe it's good advice for those just retiring and looking for what to do NOW.

by: Ricardo

Mike. I have been on this site posting my thoughts for a number of years. Your post was most refreshing and thoughtful.....thank you for your insights!

by: Anonymous

I write almost everyday and it helps, somewhat!
Still like you we had our drives and things to do. It's hard to let go and I wish you well. For me I volunteer some, not as much as I once did and I enjoy this life both good and bad days.

Journalling in Retirement
by: Wendy


I moved your comment to its own page -- as you've got some great thoughts there and didn't want them lost as they WILL benefit others. Thank you!

Had to comment on Journalling. Sounds so silly, just too easy, how could that truly help?

BUT -- Journalling, like writing down goals, does work. WRITING WORKS. It makes ideas and emotional feelings more concrete. It makes thoughts come to life, and actually helps to get those crazy, ever-circling-never-ending thoughts and fears o-u-t.

Journalling could bring clarity to worries or issues you are dealing with. Journalling could bring peace as you get out frustrations and just let it go.

NOW... as strange as this sounds, if you have a long held belief that you need to dump... something that has bothered you and you want to stop thinking of it... you might write it all out. Get out your fears and frustrations on that piece of paper, then burn it. Yes, burn it. (please do this outdoors, in a safe manner, bucket of water under the paper...) This is simply a visual mental reminder that the issue is GONE. Stop living in the past , and allow your life to move forward.

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