Signs Of Empty Nest Syndrome & Ways to Cope
For most parents their life completely revolves around their children. After all they bring them into this world, take care of their tiny fragile bodies, and look after them in every possible way. They provide a safety net to their children, offering them continuous love and support throughout their life. Plus this behaviour comes biologically hard wired to most parents. However, life goes on, and as children grow, mature, and become independent- they often move away.
Parents know they have to let their children go out to fulfill their dreams and follow their plans. But sometimes, they get filled with a grief that almost takes over them. It is characterized by loneliness, sadness, and sometimes even depression. This condition mostly impacts women and is called Empty Nest Syndrome and there are ways to deal with it once identified.
If your child recently departed from home, and you have not been feeling too well, you may be experiencing empty nest syndrome. Some main signs that you may be suffering from this syndrome include deep sadness, feelings of emptiness, a loss of purpose or meaning, stress, loss, depression, and loneliness. You may find yourself crying excessively or feeling extremely aloof.
Although empty nest syndrome is not a medical condition, it ‘can’ result in serious consequences like severe, chronic depression, or anxiety.
Losing My Best Friend- I’m So Lonely.
One of the most common feelings that stem from empty nest syndrome is loneliness. You are probably feeling as if your best friend has suddenly left you all alone. And that is completely normal. Parents spend the majority of their time with children and it becomes a daily routine to be with them. When they are not there, it is only natural to feel that a part of you is missing.
If you feel this type of loneliness, you are not alone. Know that every parent has to go through this. It is simply a part of life and this too shall pass.
Remember, you don’t have to be lonely even if that’s the way you feel currently. In fact, there is so much you can do to keep yourself busy and even happy.
Anxiety About Absent Children
Another feeling that manifests when your child leaves home is that of anxiety. You may be feeling constantly worried about their whereabouts. Your mind is riddled with questions such as “Is he/she doing okay?”, “Did something happen to them?”, “What is he/she doing right now?”.
Again, you are not alone in feeling this way. You have been responsible for your child since the moment they were born. You ensured that they were healthy and fine. You were the one with them when they took their first steps or spoke their first words. You put them to bed every night, knowing they are safe and sound. And suddenly, they’re gone. How can you not worry?
You have to tell yourself that it is okay to worry sometimes. But you need to make sure that this does not disrupt your mental health. Feelings of anxiety need to be managed if you feel them spiraling out of your control.
If you feel too anxious all the time, it would be best to consult a therapist.
How To Cope with Empty Nest Syndrome – Tips ; Solutions
Before you feel even worse, it is important to understand that this is a condition that can be managed on your own. You can cope with the grief if you put your mind and heart into it and make a conscious effort. Some of the most effective solutions for dealing with empty nest syndrome include:
- Start with Acceptance: Firstly, you need to truly accept the fact that your child is now a grown-up who has to venture into the world alone in order to learn how to survive. You cannot always be around them to keep a constant check on them no matter how reassured it makes you. After your child has left, they will actually turn out to be stronger, capable, and independent. You need to accept that your ‘lack of control’ in their life is ultimately beneficial for their identity development.
- Find purpose as an empty-nester: No matter how lonely or lost you feel, you need to gather yourself and find your own purpose. You are still your child’s’ parent, and you are still there for them. But at the same time, you are an individual too. Remember your interests, passions, hobbies, and plans, and take this time to pursue them all. I have written a post about finding new hobbies and interests Click here
- Make new friends: This is the time to turn to your family and friends and spend time with them. Even better, you should start socializing and making new friends. This is very important for you as it will make you active and social again. I have written a post about this very subject and how you might find new friends and interests.
- Click Here “How To Live Your Best Life”
- Spend time with your partner: With your child gone, you can now divert attention to your spouse or partner. Utilize this time with each other. Get romantic and plan dates and activities for the two of you. This can turn into an opportunity to bring back the spark that may have lulled out in the past years.
- Stay in touch with your child: In today’s age of technology or social media, it is effortless staying in touch with loved ones. Stay in contact with your child through messaging or phone calls. Video call them once in a while. Just remember not to over-do it.
How Long Can Empty Nest Syndrome Last?
Most suffering parents tend to wonder how long these feelings of sadness are going to stay.
Well, an interesting study was undertaken by Peregrine Adventures and they found out from a sample of 2000 empty nesters how long it took them to feel completely normal. It turns out that on average, it would take most parents 3 months and 14 days to move on.
Of course, some parents even managed to move on in less than a month. So, it all depends on your will-power and goals.
Some common goals that most empty nesters focus on include traveling, working out, or having more sex. According to the study, all three of these areas of life can greatly improve how you feel.
How old are most empty nesters?
According to Esri, most empty nesters are 50 years or older, and the average age of empty nesters is 48.5 years old.
While men get affected by empty nest syndrome as well, it is mostly women who experience it. More specifically, it is full-time mothers who have the highest tendency to experience the syndrome.
Can Single Mothers Survive Empty Nest Syndrome?
For single parents (men or women) this can seem like the ultimate loss, however all the information regarding new interests and finding new friends still applies to you just as it does to those who are in a relationship. Perhaps in addition to finding new hobbies and friends now may also be the time to get back onto the dating game. Yes it has changed but I can show you how to step back into the game, the first step is the hardest. I have actually written a blog about “Finding Love in your 50’s and or your 60’s.” Click on the blue link and it will take you through the process. I promise its not as scary as you may first think
And also Etiquette to Dating In Your 50’s
Do empty nesters get divorced?
Empty nest syndrome on its’ own does not cause couples to get divorced. However, it is a sad reality that once a child departs, many couples start to see the differences they had for all these years. They may realize that they were only sticking together for the sake of their children, when in fact they had nothing in common all along.
If both of the parents were too actively involved in their child’s life, they will feel even more severe grief. From being busy to having too much spare time; this could also result in more chances to argue or fight with each other.
However, it isn’t only negativity, resentment, and bitterness that follow when your child leaves. It is up to you and your partner to turn the situation into a positive one by rekindling the romance and love. You can enjoy the freedom and make plans together instead. In the period of grief, this does require some effort but it is so worth it. You need to make your partnership stronger at this point in your life.
It’s worth remembering as time plods on things will get better and you will adapt and sooner than you know it, you will go from being empty nesters to proud grandparents. Your life will again be filled with the laughter of little children, their twinkling eyes, and the hustle and bustle you had missed. And what’s better than watching your children have children of their own?
Our final words for empty nesters
So, take our word and do not lose hope. It is okay to miss your child when they leave home and you should always allow yourself a mourning period. But you have to make sure that your grief does not escalate too much, or affect your mental health or relationships to a deeper level.
Know that there are so many other parents that are currently feeling the way you do. You can always find comfort by turning to support groups and talking to others who are in the same boat.
It’s All In The Planning
If your child is soon going to leave home and you are already feeling worried about falling into empty nest syndrome- start planning. You need to be prepared for the upcoming change. It is always better to plan ahead and not let yourself become an empty nester in the first place. Start looking for new opportunities or activities you will indulge in when your child departs.
Remember, that your child will return home or visit soon. And they deserve to come home to the optimistic, smiling, proud parent that you have always been.
Thank you for reading thus far, please do leave a comment in the “comments” below.
See you soon
Founder of Hey Spring Chicken and proud parent of CaraN
Shout out & thanks to the wonderful image providers
Feature Image – Empty Nest – Lauren Ockel : sponsored by Unsplash
Parenting – Kelly Sikkema
Lonely Chimp – Susanne Schwarz
Nailed It – Emma Matthews of Digital Content Productin
All the images provided by Unsplash
Wikipedia provides the full meaning to “Empty Nest Syndrome” Click the link for further info