Retirement Happiness — Good Endings

In the final days before moving I’m aware that good endings are important.  Good endings involve letting go of people, places and traditions.

Endings mean difficult good-byes. As we say good-bye, we worry that inevitable life changes will alter relationships. We know the future won’t be the same.

We resist good-byes because we don’t want to lose people or things that give meaning to our lives. The natural tendency is to hold on and deny the inevitable.

Moving is one of life’s big stressors.  In stress terms, it’s rated as equal to losing a job, retiring, death of a family member, or divorce. Handling a move effectively means ending relationships; it means saying many good-byes.

Dealing with such endings is  much like the grieving process. Periods of confusion, uncertainty, and fear cloud thinking. Anxiety and doubt creep into decision-making.

When everything about your life, your home, and your living arrangement changes rapidly, it’s difficult, yet important, to stay focused and to manage endings as well as possible.

During my career I learned to bring things to an ordered close before moving from one job to another.  As a manager I faced endings as people who made substantial contributions moved to new roles. I also faced endings when I left various positions for new opportunities.

Getting things in order for a smooth transition at work meant finishing projects, preparing reports for those who would replace me, and briefing team members who would carry on until a successor was named. A project management approach enabled the transition. The skills of project management can also be applied to achieving good endings before moving.

Good Endings with People

Relationships with people will change once gatherings become infrequent. I’ll miss the daily exchanges with neighbours, locker room conversations with gym buddies, weekly bridge games with friends, and animated  book club discussions.

I know that people maintain friendships despite distance as this has happened in past moves to various cities and provinces.  The friendships will change. Many friendships will have less closeness. Some friendships will dwindle to the point of no contact.

I’m grateful to friends and neighbours who have arranged lunches and dinners to offer opportunities to say good-bye.  During these events we’ve recounted the good times and the activities we shared. We thanked each other for the fellowship we enjoyed with each other.

I’m sad about missing good-byes to church friends as we have lived at our cottage on most weekends.  I regret not saying a personal good-bye to colleagues on the library board as I could not attend the last meeting due to illness. I  can’t say good-bye to some of my gym buddies as they are away on vacation.  Without good-byes, these endings feel incomplete.

Good Endings with Places

How does one effect a good ending with a place?

My favourite spots in our community include a couple of ethnic grocery shops, our local library, the walking trail in a nearby park, and the salt water pool at my gym. I’ll miss the services I receive from our pharmacy  and the car shop that keeps my car running. Most of all, I’ll miss my back garden, the herbs outside the side door, and the plentiful yield of organic veggies from my kitchen garden.

I know that I won’t visit most of these places again and, if I do, the feelings will be those of a visitor and not feelings of belonging to those places.

Good Endings with Traditions

Some endings are linked with traditions.  Leaving our home, our community, and our friends means that many routines and traditions will change. We’ll find new ways to carry on the traditions that are meaningful but until those changes become part of daily, weekly, and seasonal patterns, we’ll feel that something is missing.

Rituals help when going through scary changes. Rituals also bring order and strength to life.  In the past few weeks, the ritualized traditions around saying good-bye have helped us make good endings as we’ve thanked those who gave meaning to our lives during our time here.

Endings and beginnings aren’t always smooth; nor are they black or white.  I’m sure there will be a hiatus before I can embrace the learning and growth opportunities that will come from living in a different place.

It’s my strong belief that good endings pave the way to new beginnings.  Giving closure to the phase of life that is over helps build capacity for a new start.  Emotional readiness is a key factor for a successful new beginning. By expressing appreciation to people, places and traditions that held meaning the foundation for what comes next emerges.

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