Grim Reality

I am just one of so many blogs written by retirees – our focus on maintaining an active and relevant lifestyle.  We are not ready or content to sit back idly with our thoughts locked in the memories of our youth, watching the world go by without us.

We are carving out new chapters.

However, there is another side of retirement that is rarely talked about – that grim reality of aging.  We start to lose those near and dear to us.

People who have shared adventures with us.  People who have made the world a brighter place for having been a part of it.

I was lucky to have taken early retirement in my mid-50s.  The past 6 years have been full of laughter, new discoveries, and escapades … but I’ve also attended a shocking number of funerals and memorials.

Yes, there is the inevitable passing of the generation before us … our aging parents and those of our friends … but with greater and alarming frequency, I am saying farewell to a friend.

Each occurrence creates a tsunami of emotion, reflection, and yes – even fear.

Today is one of those days.

Shortly before dawn on this gray summer morning, another friend slipped away.  He left behind the broken hearts of his family and friends … and so many memories of his ever-present smile.

Rest In Peace, Lester.

113 comments

    • I guess I don’t quite understand your comment. I was trying to express the sadness and emotional discomfort that comes from saying the final good-bye to dear friends.
      I don’t get the connection to trying to cling to life.

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      • I was just trying to balance our views on death and to get some perspective on a very important subject , that we fight shy of discussing. Of course our lives and the lives of those near and dear are important to us but not in the great scheme of things.
        ‘ And fear not lest Existence
        Closing your account ,and mine , should
        Know the like no more;
        The Eternal Saki from that
        Bowl has pour’d
        MILLIONS of bubbles like us ,
        and will pour.’

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        • Ahhh – so we are on the same page – it is an important subject and yet we – at least those of us in the West – shy away from the discussion.
          I love the quote, especially the visual of millions of bubbles ‘like us’.
          Thanks for the comment and coming back to clarify for me 🙂

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  1. So sorry to hear about your friend. We’ve also lost a couple of friends this year and it really does make you think about where life is taking you. Hope the funeral isn’t too difficult and you get to share happy memories of Lester x

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  2. Joanne, you are quite right that the process of aging and the post retirement phase of one’s life inevitably leads to the experience of losing loved ones. That said, there is a positive dimension to this reality. On one hand, it does make one appreciate the joys of current life which can be had at any age, pre or post retirement, but also you refer to a process that is predictable. One grows old, if one is lucky, and dies.

    We have lived in regions of the world where there are so many civil wars,/military conflict, lethal accidents based on security we take for granted (roadside accidents, collapsing buildings, infant mortality), natural disasters….. So dying of old age, in this context, is somewhat of a privilege. That said, it is always hard to lose loved ones. So sorry for your loss.

    Ben

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  3. Rest in peace Lester x beautiful words Joanne. Here’s to making everyday count and here’s to beautiful smiles like your friend Lester’s. If I was close I’d have the kettle on, a packet of Timtams and a box of tissues x

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  4. Excuse my flippant comment to Jude. I try to keep the lighter side going, though it isn’t always easy. Yesterday I was on my way to hospital with flowers for a dear friend who had suffered a stroke. I was at the bus station, waiting to change buses, when I got a call from her sister. ‘Don’t go, Jo! They are taking her to theatre and it’s critical’. She has made it through the night and family are gathered, hoping and praying. It’s life, sadly. So sorry for your loss.

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  5. Joanne, you are the third blogger in the last two days that I have seen post about losing a friend. Your post outlines the blessings of aging – the freedom to explore and learn and grow – but also the sadness and loss.
    Thinking of you, and wishing you peace

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    • It is true that there are always 2 sides to everything – the positive and the negative.
      Aging is a privilege and many don’t get to experience it, but those that do feel the pain and sadness, as well as the freedom.

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  6. So sorry for your loss, Joanne. I’ve recently lost two friends who were a year younger than me. About 5 years ago a group of us from high school reconnected and every time we get together we seem to add another person. Hopefully the odds are in our favour of living longer.

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  7. I remember my grandparents talking about the people they knew disappearing, and now my parent’s generation is dwindling. Mine isn’t far behind. It is scary, Joanne. It’s also what makes this life so precious, and a reason not to let one day slip by unnoticed. I’m sorry for the loss of your friend. ❤

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  8. I’m so sorry for the loss of your dear friend. I lost a good friend a couple of years ago, and my brother five years ago, both in their 60s. Once upon a time that was seen as a good age. Today it seems awfully young.

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  9. Condolences. It’s hard losing friends and family. I appreciate that you posted this in your “retirement” blog. I try so hard to keep mine focused on happy, funny retirement stuff. You gave me the courage to push something out on mine that doesn’t really meet my intended purpose. I’m learning that retirement, like life, is about everything, right?

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  10. Very sorry to hear about your friend’s passing. It is indeed happening more and more often these days and it certainly brings our own mortality in to focus. I have lost two close friends in the past few years and it is certainly scary when it’s your own generation and not your parents or grandparents. I think your blog illustrates how best to forge ahead and not to waste the time we have – so thank you.

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  11. So sorry for your loss Joanne. Every day I wake up happy to be alive, and also missing people who are no longer. It comes with the territory I guess.

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  12. Very sorry for your loss.
    I hope to ‘retire’ early myself. Meaning I’d like to make money from something I love, on my own time schedule 😉
    I sadly, lost 3 of my best (longest) friends in my early 40’s. All due to disease. Its sad.
    I hope to outlive all my friends, so they don’t have to go to my funeral 😉

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    • No one should have to bury one good friend in their early 40s, let alone 3. That is very tragic.

      It sounds like you are planning to age like me – kicking and screaming all the way 😉

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  13. So sorry for your loss Joanne…my thoughts are with you. It is such a priviledge to grow older… I do my utmost to embrace it and make the most of what he have in front of us, the present moment. Which is all we really have.

    Peta

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    • You said it perfectly Peta – growing old is a privilege, and one that many never get to experience. I guess that’s why it tends to annoy me when I see those who waste their time constantly whining and complaining about something.

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    • When you suddenly find yourself at the front of the line because all the generations before you have now passed, the reality is a little frightening.

      It’s then made worse when friends of your own generation start to pass as well.

      I’m not ready to be that grown-up!

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  14. I am sorry about the loss of your friend, Lester. I don’t write too much about aging on my blog, but I just turned 62, and for the past year I am really feeling it. It happened rather suddenly that I just feel all the aches and pains and problems. But if I write about it on my blog I might not shut up! I am finding that I am absolutely not gracious about aging. What a poor sport.

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  15. So sorry for your loss. You are right though, no matter how good we may think we feel, losing a good friend, loved one, or relative at this time of our lives does wake us up to the reality of what lies ahead. In less than two years, we lost a cousin, brother-in-law, a sister-in-law, a sister, and a cousin’s husband. Just reinforces my rule of living each day to the fullest and as though it might well be our last. One never knows. Thanks for sharing.

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  16. I’m sorry you’ve lost a friend. I’m glad you’ll remember his smile.
    It seems to me I’m in the stage where couples get divorced, kids move away, and parents pass on. That’s just looking at a cross-section the last few years. It’s unfortunate not all of time’s markers are happy. :/

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    • You’re right – we do go through these various stages in our life … all our friends are getting boy/girl friends, then getting married, then having babies. Now you’re riding the couples-splitting-up stage and kids moving away.

      There’s a lot about this particular stage that I really like … but then there’s the inevitable downsides of aging that really sucks 😦

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  17. I’m sorry for your loss. We’ve had two good friends pass this summer. It seems like the tables are turning to losing more than those that are here. Sad state of affairs but definitely part of the aging process. I guess the reality of our own loss makes the blogging friendships all the more special. Take care. 🙂

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  18. It’s tough to lose someone close. And you’re right about losing those of our own generation–I’ve noticed the same thing. It leaves me expecting that one morning I’m going to open the newspaper and find my own obit.

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  19. I am so sorry about your loss, Joanne. Yes, unfortunately that is a reality for many retirees. Although, I am in my late 40’s, in the past few years, I’ve had five close-friends/family members my age die from stress-related things. It reminds me how important it is to take care of my health.

    Sending hugs, love and light your way.

    MRS N

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  20. So sorry for the loss of your friend Joanne. Like you I am also enjoying my retirement (although I am nowhere near as active as you are). I think this blogging adventure is keeping us all younger at heart. I retired in my late 50’s because of my lower back problems which keeps me from active like you are. Don’t get me wrong I could still get around so I’m nowhere near being a couch potato and crapping my pants 😀 Please try to put that visual out of your mind !

    Liked by 2 people

    • Got it – no crappy pants 😉

      I’m constantly reminded that there are always 2 sides – the good and the bad, the happy and sad. I do think our blogs help keep us younger at heart and I try not to dwell on the gloomy side, but some days are harder than others.

      Today I am reminded of the expression – a joy shared is double, a sadness shared is halved.

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  21. I am so sorry for your loss. My brother who is in his upper 80s always says that he has a funeral a week to attend. I tell him as long as it’s not his, it’s ok. Death is a painful reality and I remember when I started to lose classmates. Not a lot, just one now and then. Now I am like my mother scouring the obits for people I know. This was beautifully written and oh so true.

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    • Oh Kate – so true. The growing frequency is what becomes unnerving. We’re at the top of the totem pole now and this is just becoming part of our new reality.

      I remember my dad saying – many, many years ago – that he was old on the outside, but still very young on the inside.

      I don’t like it. Not one little bit.

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  22. Oh, dear.. my sincere condolences, Joanne. ❤ We're sort of a different type of sandwich generation, now — we've lost those before us, and we're losing those from our latter timelines, now, too.. It's one of the most natural things in all of life, and yet it feels so completely unnatural, even utterly impossible that someone is suddenly gone from our shared life, here. 😦 I'm so sorry for your and everyone's loss of Lester.

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