The guilt of leaving it all behind 50



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You hear about your friends and family doing it, and you eagerly await it from your mid-40s onwards. The promise of relaxation, complete control, and security.

Well, that day came for me, but it wasn’t at all what I expected. My husband is 5 years old than me and when I turned 60, he nudged me towards retirement, saying that now was the time to move on from my workplace of 20 years.

I was a combination of excited and scared – what would retirement hold for me? How would I fill my time? Would I be bored? I put all those thoughts aside as I was feeling more excited once we had spoken to financial advisors and organised everything.

I had been a nurse since my 20s, and I loved it. The hospital I worked in was filled with wonderful, dedicated doctors and nurses, and I cared very much for everyone. Some of my best friends were there and I looked forward to every day.

The day came to had in my resignation. At 61, I still felt younger than I was, and my superior expressed shock that I was leaving – in both of our minds I think we imagined I’d stay on as a nurse forever. I was determined to give my retirement a go, and as the farewells rolled in, I was filled with sadness. I didn’t really want to go but felt like everyone else around me was doing it at my age… it was like a rite of passage.

My final day again had me feeling excited and scared. We’d had a cruise planned to celebrate two days later, but in hindsight it was almost as if it was just there to make me avoid the harsh reality of retiring.

When I closed the door for the last time, I thought it was the start of a new beginning, but little did I know how much I was going to miss that time of my life. After the cruise, I felt beside myself. I had such guilt for leaving the workplace – it didn’t feel right.

I realised that even with all our finances sorted, that still didn’t give me daily purpose – my former purpose was to care for people. Now, I had no idea what I was going to do. I read a report that we’re living much longer than expected and it dawned on me that I have 20+ years to fill! And with what?!

After several months of feel lost and sorry for myself, I received a flyer in my letterbox about a seniors community group. I went along to a meeting and now I attend weekly meet ups and have made great friends. I also volunteer at my local second-hand store at the Church, and play table tennis twice a week. My schedule is busier than ever. And to think, only a few months ago I thought I’d lost my friends, my livelihood and my purpose.

I hope that anyone reading this who has retired and is feeling bored or even useless like I was … just reach out to your community. Give your time to someone who needs it. You never know, you could find what you were missing.


Share your thoughts below.

Guest Contributor

  1. It takes time to adjust.I miss my career and have wonderful memories however I know I could not do it now. I am busy with my family and I give to the community. It is time for us.

  2. After 32 years in the one job I know how you felt I volunteered straight away for a couple of groups one of which closed down at the end of 12 months then I also joined a couple of craft groups. I am remaking friendships with women I used to be in mother’s groups with but also have time to teach my grandchildren the crafts my grandmother taught me and enjoy their company.

  3. I never liked it that much, s I became involved in a business that keeps my mind working a lot sharper than when every day the same old same old.

  4. Worth the read from my point of view, as I’m on the verge of retirement myself, although I’m 67 not 61.

  5. After 33years of teaching I retired wondering how I was going to fill in my days and a had the same feeling the same re purpose of life. After 5 years I have filled my life extremely well with volunteering, gardening, learning other skills etc etc. I was worried about the social side but have made new friends and my life has taken a new direction. I really don’t know how I ever fitted in work! !!

  6. Once I decided to retire I closed the chapter on that life and opened another for retirement. Never looked back or missed work at all. It’s one’s mindset that counts.

  7. I loved my job, my workmates and my customers and I’d worked in pharmacy for 31 years. After visiting two close friends (both with cancer) one weekend I came home and decided to retire. It was time for me, so at 60 I retired. My boss was very surprised too. I had just become a grandmother as well. My two friends have now passed, both younger than me. My life is full and I intend to live it to the fullest. I now am a marriage celebrant and work when I want to and love it. My husband and I have a new caravan and hope to have more adventures and I also have another grandchild. They are the love of my life. I also have a wonderful group of friends. Who ever said retirement was boring.

    1 REPLY
    • Yes I have lost close relatives to cancer, makes you think about what is really important that’s for sure.

  8. After 2.5yrs retired I am wondering how work ever managed to fit in my life. The people worked with will always be friends and able to be reached but there is just so much available to do and places to go and new experiences and… only have a finite time so you better get out there and enjoy it while you can.

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