It’s not easy to give a retirement speech when you’re sick.
Life changes in mysterious ways. You never know what’s around the bend. If you’re suffering from a terminal illness, you know this all too well. And sadly enough, having a terminal illness sometimes means losing your job or being forced into early retirement. This can be hard.
Giving a retirement speech when you have a terminal illness can be difficult. Oftentimes, you are honored at a ceremony or party, when in this situation. The hard part about it all is that you are flooded with emotions about your illness, and you are sad about leaving your coworkers. This makes for an overhaul of emotion that no doubt will shine through in your speech.
People sometimes make the mistake of not having a speech prepared, because they don’t think they need one; they don’t expect anyone to pay them a tribute. But more often than not, going away parties like this will require you to speak. People who have known you along the way will most likely speak and pay tribute to you. You will be surrounded by loved ones, who also share your emotion.
Prepare yourself for this scenario. If your company tells you they’re throwing you a retirement party, sit down and begin writing. This is a hard time in your life, and you are no doubt worried about your future. However, you will also miss your past. Express this in your speech. Tell family and coworkers how much they mean to you, and thank them for how they’ve helped you along the way.
Don’t talk about your ill health. Address it briefly, but don’t dwell on it. You don’t want people to be any more upset than they already are. You can, however, talk about your journey throughout your career, reflecting on the moments that made your job special. You will no doubt be emotional, so don’t be afraid to cry. This is a difficult time for you right now. Crying helps you get the pain out, and it allows others to empathize with you. Chances are that they will cry with you.
Reflect on the beginning of your career. You could open your speech with, “I remember when,” telling an inspiring story that drove you on your journey through your career. Also, be sure to talk about things you look forward to in the future. Will you be resting at home? If so, you may want to consider writing a book. Give yourself something to look forward to. Don’t dwell on the negative.
When you’re writing your speech, don’t think too much about perfection. Don’t think about ideas too much. Instead, write down a bunch of thoughts on paper. Write about how you feel right now. Express any emotion you feel. Then, you can go back, and turn those raw thoughts into compelling stories. You can go back and polish these stories later. At the very least, you have something written down. You have something you can work with.
Don’t tell people not to cry. If you only have a little time left, share this. Allow people to grieve with you; it cleanses the soul. Plus, it helps bring a meaningful and conclusive end to your career.
Be sure to have a box of tissues handy. You never know when you’re going to need them. And have a friend nearby. That way, you have someone to hug, if you need to. If you are so emotional that you can’t make it through the speech, a friend or family member should be able to pick up and give it for you. Use this person, if you need them.