The time has come that your children have grown up and are now ready to live their own lives away from home. While some parents react to this positively, others face it with grief or worry, knowing that they are no longer responsible for their kids. Before telling yourself, “I should sell my house in New Jersey fast and relocate to where my kids will be staying,” acknowledge that these things happen and you are going through what is called the empty nest syndrome.
Defining the Empty Nest Syndrome
This occurs when feelings of loneliness or grief are caused by someone moving out of a household or losing someone staying there. Your child moving away is one example. Another instance is among spouses when one experiences divorce or death of a loved one and is left alone. It can also be experienced by your grandmother when she is being moved to a retirement home, losing the community she was once a part of.
The empty nest syndrome is not considered a mental health disorder but an experience that can lead to depression and other health issues. A change in living arrangements or the loss of someone may lead to you someone being easily aggravated, crying frequently, feeling a loss of meaning in life, detachment from activities or people, and weight loss/gain.
Coping and Support
Once you’ve put a label to what you’ve been feeling, it’s now time to begin recovering and bouncing back to what you have lost. Even though a stay-at-home parent is most likely going to experience empty nest, your child or grandparent may experience it too due to the change in living conditions.
If you’re a parent with children moving away, remember to be happy and proud of what your kids have accomplished and respecting their new feeling of independence. Reassuring them of your love and support goes a long way as well as keeping in the communication of how you feel. Without you knowing, your children may also feel scared and anxious about the situation, as well. Let them know that you support them and allow them room to grow.
This also gives you a chance to look forward to future activities and reconnecting with your husband or wife. Bond and do activities together. When you still feel sad or lonely, joining a group of empty nesters can ease your feelings of grief by hearing other experiences and feelings similar to yours. If these sad feelings continue to persist, you and your partner may consult a therapist or counselor to help you cope.
Your New Nest
Your loved ones are moving out for a reason and learning to cope with loss or a new living situation can be challenging. Look forward to the future and build a new nest, not with regret, but with interesting opportunities and things you haven’t done before as well as keeping active and engaged. There may be days where these feelings of grief may return, so seeking professional advice and therapy is encouraged. Remember to look at the bright side and focus on creating happiness instead of loneliness and grief, because filling up an empty nest is much better than staying in an empty one.