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Navigating the Complex Grief of Endings: From Startup Dreams to Retirement Realities

Grief is a terrain often associated with the loss of loved ones, but its shadows stretch over many of life’s transitions and endings. Among these, the closure of a startup and the journey into retirement emerge as poignant experiences that, while seemingly distinct, share a common core of loss, identity recalibration, and the quest for renewed purpose.

The closure of a startup is a form of loss that’s hard to articulate. It’s not just the end of a business but the dissolution of dreams, and the stark void left by unmet potential. For me, it took six years before I could even sort through the remnants of my own failed venture—products that never found their audience, marketing material left untouched. The physical act of letting go, of discarding these tangible memories, was a delayed acknowledgment of my loss.


This wasn’t merely about financial investment or business aspirations; it was a loss of identity and confidence. Jam Program, a start-up founded in 2018 by me, my sister and mother focused on helping women, of all ages, network with power and confidence. It was an extension of ourselves, a testament of our collective beliefs, abilities, and hopes. To close it was to witness a part of us diminish, leaving us to grapple with questions of worth and capability.


The Multifaceted Grief of Retirement


Retirement, on its surface, appears as a deserved culmination of years of hard work, a chance to relax and enjoy life's later years. Yet, it too can usher in a profound sense of loss. Beyond the obvious financial adjustments, retirees often face the loss of routine, social connections forged in professional settings, and, most significantly, a sense of purpose. Work, for many, is not just a means to an end but a source of identity and fulfillment. The transition to retirement can feel like being untethered, floating away from the familiar shores of structured days and clear objectives.


Finding Connection in Disparate Losses


The grief of closing a startup and the emotional journey of retirement might seem worlds apart, yet at their heart, they both embody the struggle of letting go and the fear of what comes next. Both scenarios demand a reevaluation of self-worth and purpose outside the familiar roles we’ve played. They both require courage to move forward.


The Path to Reimagining


Healing and growth lie in the process of reimagining our lives post-transition. For me, moving beyond the grief of our startup’s closure meant embracing the lessons learned and recognizing that failure is not an identity but a stepping stone. It took a very long time. Years. Similarly, retirement opens a new chapter where the loss of one identity paves the way for the discovery of new passions, pursuits, and ways of defining value and success. Don’t rush it, but nurture it.


Embracing the New


The key to navigating these transitions is to allow ourselves to grieve the losses fully while staying open to the possibilities that lie ahead. It’s about learning to find fulfillment in new routines, forging new connections, and redefining what gives our lives meaning. Whether it’s through volunteering, picking up new hobbies, or even starting a new venture, the end of one chapter is the beginning of another.


As we face the losses of life’s transitions, let us remember that with every ending comes the opportunity for renewal. By embracing change, we can transform our grief into the foundation for a future rich with purpose and joy. It was our founding of Jam Program that gave me the courage and know-how to start Goldinage. And Goldinage has enabled me to let go of Jam Program.

And honestly even if Goldinage is another failed attempt, I still have my sister and mom, to comfort me and get me on my way again.

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