As my husband and I watched our youngest boy drive away that 4th of July morning, the Jeep Wrangler loaded to capacity, it was a bitter sweet feeling. It was exciting, but at the same time fear and worry took over my thoughts as I struggled to hold back tears. Soon the jeep was out of sight, with my little boy at the wheel, driving himself to college in Colorado.
The “empty nest” syndrome is a very real psychological condition not to be taken lightly. It refers to the feelings of depression, sadness and grief that parents experience when their children leave home for college or to get married. It most often affects the mother and can likely come at a time when women are also going through other life changes, such as menopause or caring for their own elderly parents.
It is very normal and natural to feel sad when your last child moves out and there is no longer that need for day to day care. It’s also natural to want to have a good cry over it, so don’t be ashamed of those feelings. Experts say it is important to monitor your feelings and reactions however, don’t hesitate to seek counseling or professional help if your sadness overwhelms you. Severe symptoms include excessive crying, feeling like your useful life has ended and/or no longer wanting to go to work, go shopping or even being with friends.
Netdoctor recommends these helpful tips to ease this time of transition for empty-nesters:
Keep in contact with your child – schedule weekly phone chats
Email your son or daughter with current happenings at home
Mail your child small “care packages” with grocery items or house wares for their new place
With the extra time and energy now, take up a hobby or spend it on leisure activities or even a career
Lean on your friends for their support, especially those that have been through this empty nest syndrome
If you’re a parent facing the empty nest syndrome, you will get through it. It was a long six months before we met our son at the airport to bring him home for Christmas. The tall young man who came running up to hug me is still my little boy, but an adult as well.
At this time of adjustment you and your spouse may have totally different ideas on how to spend your time or how to use that extra space in your home. Communication and compromise is the key. If finances allow, take a trip – just the two of you and rest, relax and enjoy!
Sources: MedicineNet, provided by Psychology Today