When life loses its meaning after retirement

Depression, Inner Peace, Older Adults

A middle-aged lady told me that nowadays she did not have the mood to do anything at all. She would just would alternate between sitting down and lying on the bed. And she had also lost her appetite- she actually had to force herself to eat just to get something into her body. Usually, about 2 months prior to the festive session, she would just lose her appetite- something which she had been facing for a few years. But with the lack of mood and energy to do anything at all- that’s totally new to her.

Suffering from depression

I knew that this lady was suffering from depression but do not know how to convey it to her. You see, recently, she had lost her beloved pet who had to be put to sleep due to complications of old age illness. She was not married but used to have a fairly successful career.

This is something we would eventually face in our old age… we may have thought that we have life all figured out. When we are young, all we do is to work and be good daughter/sister/ auntie/ mother. We were so sure we are on the right path and that when that distant retirement comes…something that we work so hard for, we would be looking forward to it.

The years gone by and finally….we are able to retire.  But retired life is not as rosy as what we have envisioned it to be. With old age, sometimes health ailments like bodily pain follow us like the shadow that would never leave. In fact, we have never expected or dreamt that reality would be so different. Or we find that even though we have a lot of time in our hands, our loved ones don’t- they are too busy trying to survive in this increasing competitive world and we feel too small to intrude.


For those who have to spend their golden years alone, loneliness starts to set in. Yes, there are still friends and families but in the end, everyone else spends CNY or Christmas eve with their families- leaving the person alone.  The reality of life’s mortality sets in with a further blow of either losing a dear old friend, close relative or a beloved pet. If the person tends to be an introvert and do not open up easily to others, it is even harder to overcome.

Reach out….touch others life- don’t stay couped up in the house

When we feel that we are all alone in the world, the worst we can do is to continue to stay alone and to feel sorry for ourselves. We might think: already we are feeling down, if we go out and mix with people, it would just make it worse, rite?

Regardless of age, we all feel down once a while. It is natural for our emotions to have ups and downs. Strange is it to say, reaching out to others in the form of service may just be the remedy that we need. I’ve written previous articles about seniors who find purpose and kept their minds occupied after retirement and about a pleasant retired lady who worked in a pharmacy.

Another 70 year old lady I know is (still) married to a husband who drives her nuts- but she is still well and sane because she is very active in hospice and volunteer activities.  Some took time to experiment with blogging and try their hand to earn some side income- finding new avenues to occupy their minds. We can also draw inspiration from Reddie, a grandpa who previously had a heart bypass surgery and now cycling around the world.  Last I read on 3 Feb 2011, he braved turnados and coyotes during his US cycling tour.

Now that retirement has finally come, it’s time to focus on what we have set our hearts to do in the past but have not managed to accomplish previously because of financial and time commitments.  Or better still, engage in a cause that we believe in.

In year 2008- 09, spending time in the outskirts of Thailand helping others, healing on the inside has given me such a profound impact so much so that I could look back and smile and have little regret if my time on earth is up. Try to look for such impactful experience in your life- now that you have time- you can explore. Hint hint…you can never gain such experience by being the Employee or even the CEO of the year.

It is not how much time we have- it is what we do with the time we have that matters.

When we reach out to help others, we also heal inside. Don’t stay at home and watch TV all day long- it   makes us feel worse and our problems feel bigger. Many places out there are desperately in need of volunteers. Go….take small steps…. you can make a difference 🙂

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