It had been a long time coming, you knew one day they would spread those wings and fly. They would eventually leave home, to become full- fledged, independent adults, not needing your guidance anymore to make their decisions. They have now become their own persons. That is the normal process. That is what is meant to happen. It means, you did a good job raising them. But why then does it feel so hard when they leave? Surely they are not meant to be under our wings forever. So why is it so difficult? Why do we feel so empty when they leave?
Empty Nesting is a term describing the sad, empty, melancholic feeling that comes when children who have grown up to become adults leave home. Although not a clinical diagnosis, it is very real and experienced by a lot of adults in the middle-age group who have children. It can get really hard sometime, but there certain things you can do, and keep in mind to help ease the sadness. Here are some ways to move on from the emotions of Empty Nesting:
- Embrace Your Emotions: Allow yourself to feel every emotion that comes with it. Don’t ignore your emotions. If you feel deeply sad, that is how you feel, embrace it. Even if you experience the opposite and it doesn’t affect you as much, embrace it as well. Don’t feel guilty for not feeling the same emotions as others do. We all respond differently. Whatever you feel during this period, acknowledge it and don’t judge yourself. Unless you begin to show signs of clinical depression, what is happening is perfectly normal. It is more important to be gentle with yourself than trying to move on to quickly.
- Know You Are Not Alone: It can get really lonely, especially when other parents are getting along fine, and you seem to be ‘the overly-emotional one’ among them. People express emotions differently. While some seem to be okay on the surface, when no one is watching they silently release their pain and cry. Others release their grief by keeping busy, getting involved in activities. Chances are other parents somewhere in another state or in the world are feeling the same as you and are taking this as hard as you are. So, in reality you are truly not alone in what you are going through. A support system of like-minded woman might be very helpful during that time.
- Reflect On the Good Times: Although full of melancholy, it is also a time to reminisce on the GOOD times. The day they came into the world, the times you helped them overcome their challenges while growing up. The love and care it took to raise them, the moments they looked up to you because of your protection for them. The many decisions they had to make which no doubt often made you so proud, and your heart was full. Be grateful for these memories. You also get to see how much YOU CHANGED as a person and as a parent. You have planted many seeds for them to grow to an adult. Give yourself a pat on the back.
- There is so much more to look forward to: This is not the end of life. It is a time to look forward to what can be. For so long you have been taking care of someone else, forgetting yourself in this process. Take good care of yourself, eat well, exercise, and stay healthy. Reignite and chase your passion. Do something that you always wanted to do. Go write that book. Travel to a specific destination. Start that business. And no, you are not too old. This is also a time to rediscover your purpose. You can always start now. Your children will find it interesting and will be happy you are moving on well in this phase. It’s an important message for them because they will watch and learn for when it’s they’re time to make their first big decisions. There is so much to look forward to, and life is just beginning so to speak. Remember that keeping your youthful glow always starts from the heart.
- Rediscover Your Marriage and Your Spouse. If you are married, this is a good opportunity to reignite the love and passion you once felt for your spouse. A lot of time has passed and they may not be the same person you first met. Use this period to know each other again. One way is to find one specific activity that you can do together. Go out on dates, have honeymoons even if it’s a picknick in the backyard. Rediscover each other’s love language you used to speak before having children and increase intimacy. Close the gap that was created by children and life circumstances. This will help you grow old and happy together.
There it is! Empty Nesting is not bad all together. A lot of good can come out of it. Exercise and remain strong. Your children and grandchildren will appreciate it very much when they see you taking care of yourself. Remember they still need you, even though they are independent. Do take care of yourself for YOU and your loved ones around you. 🙂