‘Retirement: I didn’t go into it willingly at all’

Nov 16, 2019
Robyn was not prepared for retirement felt it was forced upon her. Source: Stock Photo/Getty Images

My retirement was something I had never really thought about. It was in the distant future and as I was always working and busy didn’t give it much thought. Then one day I got sick – very unwell – and could not go to work. I pined for the office and my friends I worked with, but there wasn’t anything I could do, I just couldn’t work anymore.

My mind started playing tricks on me. I would wake up in the morning and start thinking about projects and work that was unfinished and this made me depressed as well as even more sick. Just the tonic I needed was 5 kilometres away with friends and coworkers helping me to do my job.

Planning ahead had not happened — it was so far off, years even. But ‘bugger me days’ I couldn’t work anymore so had to stay home and rest. My plan was to return to work as soon as I was able but my body had other ideas. I became more unwell so working finally had to be given up I actually had to retire … I think it was one of the saddest days I have ever had. To think that my career had come to a screeching holt without my permission or without any knowledge or back up plan.

Now everyone has a life path and often strange things happen to change an outcome. Mine was just plain rough, no warning just becoming unwell and then not being able to go back. My friends at the office rang me often in the beginning, but after about a month they didn’t call anymore so I was left to my own devices and without support from any of them. I was out of sight and out of mind. I felt betrayed by them all, so of course I got angry.

Getting angry about being sick was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I missed everyone so much and I couldn’t really call them and chat daily. I had to suck it up and just stay put. One of the hardest things I have ever had to do.

I adored my work. I was a professional event/fundraiser for a huge charity and my days were very busy and fulfilling. What to do at home … Knit!

It took me quite a few months to settle into a routine at home that didn’t make me sad. I started projects like painting small wooden boxes with faux finishes, knitting and talking to other friends who didn’t work. There are only so many lunches you can go to with non-workers, they had very little to say that I wanted to hear. I wanted to talk about my work and that would have been boring for them so I put on a brave face and muddled along.

After nine years I still think about my job and how much I enjoyed it but now I fill my days with as much constructive projects I can. I am still not 100 per cent fit/well, but I have people coming into the house every day to assist me so I can live alone and be productive.

I would recommend people think about their retirement in a positive way and make plans to ensure that when they actually finish their working career, they can transition in a way that allows them to enjoy their retirement. It was not something I went into willingly at all!

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Have you retired? Was it a stage in your life you embraced or did you struggle, like this writer?

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