Retirement and Death. They’re the Same Thing.

Happy Retirement!I continue to be fascinated by the idea of retirement. And not just my own.


Although admittedly, I think about mine more than I contemplate others. I think about it a lot. And by a lot, I mean about every 12 seconds.

And by every 12 seconds, I don’t actually mean every 12 seconds.

It’s way more often than that.

If you work in a school there are always 1 or 2 employees that get to retire at the end of the school year. I say “get”. Some of them say “have to”.

It seems retiring is a wonderful idea when you can’t (and it seems so very wonderful to me). As employees get older and closer to this big decision, it seems to weigh on them.

Plus, I think it is more difficult for those teachers and administrators who are still great at their jobs.

You have to admit, it’s not like we are pouring concrete, working in a coal mine, changing oil in cars, or digging ditches for a living.

I wonder if it’s stressful because the school year ends so abruptly. It reminds me of the feeling I used to get when I coached.

When you are coaching a team all your effort goes into accomplishing year long goals. Then it never fails. You end up losing the last game of the season and it all suddenly comes crashing to a close.

Even though you know this is going to happen, it still comes as a surprise.

While you actually had looked forward to the last game, as soon as it is over, you miss it and feel a little lost.

Then a two week funk overtakes you…

…which includes restlessness, binge eating, watching way too much TV, and rocking yourself to sleep while laying in the fetal position in the corner of your bedroom often times only wearing your favorite Batman underpants (of course this is just an example… I never actually watched too much TV).

Retirement seems to sneak up on people in much the same way (hopefully, without the Batman underwear).

I have come up with a theory (which I may have shared before, but since I don’t read my blogs once they are finished… it seems like a new idea to me).

Retirement is like a death. People have to go through a grieving process.

The older I get, the more this makes sense to me.

Some teachers/administrators spend over 30 years in one school district. Sometimes in one building. And occasionally even in one classroom.

While they are ready to let go and retire, it is still difficult.

The good news is that in my own very unscientific study, retirees feel much better about their choice 6 months into the next school year than they did when they walked out of school for the last time.

As they conclude their careers in education, they haven’t had a chance to sit back and reflect on what their new lives will be like.

They haven’t had the opportunity to NOT grade any more papers, or NOT babysit a study hall, or NOT telling their kids to be quiet in the hallway, or NOT emailing an angry parent.

Once they get to NOT experience these things, they are able to enjoy their new lives.

Sweet, sweet retirement (it’s like the mistress I haven’t met yet).

But before they get to this stage there is a process they may have to go through.

Denial, anger, and depression. Then and only then comes acceptance.

The good news is the grieving process always comes to a close. But it can take time (as the results of my unscientific study show).

A person’s career is like an old friend or a beloved family pet. No matter how much you prepare for their passing, it is still extremely difficult to let go.

Especially after 30 years.

So if you are retiring at the end of this school year, congratulations. And please know, I am jealous.

And if you are having second thoughts about your decision. Be patient.

You haven’t gotten to the good part yet. That happens next fall when I am going to work and you’re not (if you need me, I will most likely be somewhere in the fetal position).

There is always another way to retire. My way. It is a two-step process. First, don’t tell anyone and secondly, make sure to leave your keys on the desk as you sneak out quietly.

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