The party that became a funeral for my career

Senior man sad and disappointed at a party.

Image: Koldunov/

After reading a post a couple of weeks back, John reflected on his own ‘funeral’ experience. He’s not alone in this, which is why it appears here rather than as a comment at the end of the post. This is what he wrote:

Great post with solid suggestions. I retired almost 3 months ago with 100% confidence that it was the right time. I remain confident that it was the right decision but ran into something I didn’t expect.

A few weeks after I retired I attended a party celebrating the 100th birthday of one of my former employers. I got to see many old friends I knew from the beginning of my career. I had a great time, but after a while, I started feeling sad. I realized that my career was over and I was probably seeing a lot of these people for the last time.

I started seeing the party as a sort of funeral for my career.

In preparing for my retirement I didn’t consider the impact that ending my career would have on me.

A huge part of my identity is now in my past. No regrets, really, but it is something that I wish I paid more attention to.

People approaching retirement should consider how they will feel when putting their career in the rearview mirror. Even if you do a good job maintaining contact with your career friends, your career is over and you may have a period of mourning to go through.

Every retirement brings both losses and gains. It’s worth recognising them.


Bruce Manners is the author of Retirement Ready? and Refusing to Retire, and founder of

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Category: Emotional Health, Working

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