Ditching the ‘Empty Nest’ blues

Some parents call them every few hours just to hear their voices, others go into their old bedrooms, dust and rearrange their furniture and even lie on their bed sheets to catch that faint smell of them. It is never easy to let go and when it is our children going off to university or to move out on their own, it is almost akin to losing a limb.

Mother hugging teenage son as he packs for college

‘Empty Nest Syndrome’ is a feeling of sadness and grief parents may feel when their children leave home.

That deep ache or loss is what the experts call ‘empty nest syndrome’. An offspring striking out on their own is nothing new as it is a stage of life where they assert their independence, test their survival skills and see if they have what it takes to begin to self actualise.

While not a clinical condition, ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’ is a feeling of sadness and grief parents may feel when their children leave home. At first, they may not recognise it, as the departure was a happy occasion with a send-off party and well wishes. But for some, after the initial euphoria, comes the depression as some parents lose their sense of purpose, especially single parents.

Keeping in contact helps, particularly when the child makes an effort to call often or comes home on holidays without the parent begging them. More importantly, parents need to now begin to refocus on themselves and realise that the next stage of their lives can be just as exciting as their child’s own journey. They can regain their momentum and their sense of purpose by re-discovering their passion or their gift.

Some people always wanted to go back to school. Now would be the perfect time once your finances are all in a row. It is never too late to pursue your academic dreams and you might surprise yourself and find out that it is actually easier now that you do not have the stresses of juggling kids and other commitments that distracted you years earlier. If school is not your thing, how about learning a new instrument or studying a foreign language? You do not have to sit in a stuffy old classroom anymore as the power of the internet makes YouTube your best friend for practically any subject area.

There is power in finding your purpose again.

If you have some disposable income, why not take a vacation? I hear Italy is lovely this time of year. If you do not want to go off by yourself, invite your bestie to go along or simply pay some family member a well-needed visit. Old tales and memories get sweeter with age so share well into the night and next morning.

It may also be the perfect time to pick up back that hobby that you used to love so much. If you always wanted to design your garden, get some gloves, a big broad hat to fight the sun and have at it.

There is no time like the present. Sitting around and moping will not prevent the sun from rising, so rise with the sun and grow towards the light. There is power in finding your purpose again.