Why Soon-To-Be Retirees Are Feeling More Than Just Freedom

If you’re getting close to 65 or the actual date on which you’re going to exit the workforce, you may be wondering what you’re going to feel in those days leading up to the end of your work life. Finding people who are in the same boat is always a good way to handle complex situations. Retirement certainly qualifies as one of the most complicated scenarios that people will face in their lifetimes. Recently, The New York Times Magazine followed a few people in their last days on the job. Here are some of the main takeaways from the things they mentioned they were feeling throughout that time.

Losing Part of Your Identity

man in front of mirror reflecting himself without face
Image Credit: Shutterstock / fran_kie

In this investigative work, a reporter interviewed a group of people who were also followed by a photographer on their final days in the workforce. One of the common themes that the reporter mentions she picked up on was people feeling like they were losing part of their identity. It’s not that they took work home with them, but it was part of their life for so long that it’s hard to see it go.

Goodbyes Are Not Only For People

Close-up on a red closed sign in the window of a shop displaying the message "Going out of business".
Image Credit: Shutterstock / BreizhAtao

Two of the saddest stories in the entire report revealed a hard truth that many people maybe don’t consider. One of the retirees whose story didn’t make the final cut was a zookeeper. He mentioned that on his final day, he was going to take the time to say goodbye to all of his favorite animals in the facility. One of them was a bear that he’d raised since it was a cub!

In another story, an 82-year-old store owner was finally going into retirement. He was doing so in a way that maybe wasn’t ideal. Ultimately, he closed his store and, therefore, was no longer working. The story isn’t clear whether the man just thought it was time to close up shop because of his age, or because he’d gone out of business. Regardless, he had to say goodbye to the company that he’d spent years building up.

The Last Times

Tired depressed old male doctor feels desperate thinking of medical problem feels burnout at work.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / fizkes

A doctor in her final days on the job recalled constantly thinking that each type of situation that she treated would be her last. The final stomach issue that she’d deal with in her career. When the next patient came in, that might be the final infection she’d treat with antibiotics. That can be one of the hardest things to deal with for professionals who are leaving their jobs. In certain professions, you may come back as a consultant some place or whatever it may be.

There are jobs, though, where this will never be a possibility. It can be really hard to cope with the idea that you’re doing things for the last time in your entire life! That’s something that can help pre-retirees, particularly, to seek professional help to perhaps learn how to cope with the mental toll of things coming to an end. As a person begins to do things for the last time, it may be inevitable to think that the next thing to go is themselves.


A mature man sits on the couch at home, relaxes, enjoys life and listens to vinyl records on a music player.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / ORION PRODUCTION

One of the “weirdest” stories in the report was about a DJ. He was one of the few people who talked about the happiness that the thought of retirement gave him. What was “unique” about this case was that many people wouldn’t think DJs don’t love their job. This man, however, mentioned that he didn’t want to go through the hassle of his daily gigs. It makes more sense when you realize most people in their 60s are not going to be happy if they’re the last ones to leave a party. He said he was glad to walk into retirement because he didn’t enjoy his job anymore.

In this report, it’s evident that retirement hits everyone differently. It may be natural to go through a wide range of emotions. It’s not that other people weren’t relieved that work was done. The DJ was just the only one who had it as a top of mind for him. Dealing with those final days can take a toll on anyone mentally. There’s no shame in looking for support of different kinds when going through these moments.

Mario Perez

Author: Mario Perez


Mario is a seasoned journalist who’s worked with multiple publications over the years. He has a passion for looking for that story within the story itself. When he’s not actively looking for breaking news, he enjoys playing and watching sports.

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