Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Retirement Stress

How often do we hear this old story. Guy makes all these plans for his retirement and dies suddenly soon after he finally retires. I man I know just retired at 57 with a good pension, one of those traditional full retirement packages few people get anymore. He'd just had a physical and received a clean bill of health. About a month after his retirement, he dies from a massive heart attack.

What is it that causes so many people to pass away just when they seem about to pursue their dreams?

Stress is probably a factor. We can feel stressed out even when good things happen. Change is stressful, especially when you haven't had to do much of it. Take your typical working stiff who slaves away for years doing the same old job. Releasing them in the wild is a stressful experience. Their days might have been good or might have sucked, but they did have structure. People's identity is closely tied up with their job. Retirement takes that bit of identity away.

I'm guessing that in the future there will be fewer people dying from post retirement stress. How's that? Simple, traditional retirement appears to be going away pretty quickly. Many people will never get to really retire. No retirement, no retirement stress.

Of course, there's the stress of never being able to retire, but that's a different subject for another day.

Then there will be all those people who never really get to settle in a job. How many people work like this: a few years here, a few months there, are unemployed for a while, then a few more months in a different field of work entirely. More and more people's work life is constantly changing. There's no time to get stuck in a rut. That kind of life can be stressful too, but a person who adapts successfully to it has nothing to fear from retirement. It's just one more change in a life of many changes. They've adapted. (or died young, thus avoiding the whole retirement death scenario completely)

There are some people embracing the hit or miss nature of work. I've friends who work seasonally and can't wait for their annual layoff. That's when they get to pursue their own passions. Of course, they've learned to live on a lot less money than most people. In spite of that, their lives are full of rich experiences.

Beats the heck out of leaving a rich widow.



  1. We sold our house in 97, came to Florida bought a sailboat. Lived and cruised for 7yrs on it. Now it's back to the grind and working and prepping for the big one. Whatever that might be. Fortunately I have a wife, whom will follow me, no matter the direction.
    Should have kept the boat ! Medical bills forced the sale though. Figure I kin retire when I die LOL. Hopefully can get another blow boat. Cheap way to live, long as you don't tie up to the dock ! Then you might as well live in a house, ya can't really work and live on a boat.


  2. Spud: I'm starting small with the boat. If it works out, who knows? There are some great deals on boats right now. Having a wife willing to have a bit of adventure is the key.

  3. When my Dad retired in '92, I thought he was going to be bored out of his tree. Worked pretty much continuously since he was 10 (grocery delivery boy in his Dad's store during Depression), he retired at 65 after 30 plus years as an architect.

    He enjoyed retirement. I lived at home at the time, and waking up at O dark thirty to soft classical music, I'd find him listening to his beloved classical music. With Mom, my brother and I out of the house, he jam out with more of the same. He was very content.

    He died of a massive heart attack at age 70. Five years retired. No suffering, he never spent a day of his life in a hospital. I consider it a good way to die.

    Having something to do that you love I think was the key to a happy retirement. Whatever it is that makes you happy.

  4. My first job lasted the longest, over 17 years. My other tastes of emplyment didn't last very long because the companies would go out of business. Gee, I put a lot of companies out of business (grin). That is when I realized that I should just work for myself. Worked for me. That way, you never seem to completely retire.

  5. I didn't know you knew him. Romona grew up with him they lived on the same street. I gave his kids lessons, and worked for him durning my summers. He was the nicest guy and the best boss I've had in many years, including myself. He was Russels best friend.

    Peace and Balance,