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Empty Nest and You

With graduation season upon us, it is good to take some time to reflect on the empty nest – namely yours and those of your friends. Empty nest feelings hit us when the youngest graduates high school, or when the first child heads to college, or when every member of the family decides to live elsewhere. Time and again we have to cope with feelings of loss, of beginning again, of the angst that perpetual adjustment to changing relationships brings. Dealing with an empty nest, whatever the kind, is not easy and if we are not careful, it can send us onto the road of depression and too many of us are already familiar with that road.

So, if you are heading toward empty nest feelings, be aware that there are some things you can do so that you don’t plunge downward into depression. If you are married or in a long term relationship, reawaken that romance. Maybe on the ride home from dropping off the last child at school, you might rekindle that old flame by stopping for a nice quiet dinner for two. Granted you might only talk about the change, but that is good. Change is good and talking about it makes the change easier to manage. And stay open to that romance as you return and resume your routines.

Take time to reacquaint with friends you have left fall by the wayside. Go for coffee or have them over for tea. Friends are so important. They will be one of the few constants in your life and often the ones who have been through empty nests and can identify with your feelings.

This is also your time to plan how you will nurture your extended family. One of the things I took to doing was sending an email to each child each morning with a quote or little musings about my day. It serves to keep in touch without requiring any response but pays off in big rewards in other ways especially when they mention that you didn’t send one of your emails! 🙂 With so many things at our disposal – FaceTime, email, Facebook, texting – there is no excuse for not staying in touch or nurturing that extended family.

Best of all, this is a time to rediscover yourself. Often we mothers forget a lot a things about ourselves as a person when each day is packed with other people’s needs. When those needs are filled by others, that leaves time for us to remember and reacquaint with who we are. Watercolor, guitar, gardening….whatever the interest that is you, now is the time to pursue it.

And if you find yourself sleeping longer, uninterested in everything and waiting desperately for the call from Junior, it might be time to seek help because that empty nest has perhaps taken the plunge toward depression.

– Bernadette


2 Responses

  1. Being proactive is important. I am a (young-ish!) widow with only one left at home. I imagine in a year’s time or less I will be alone. Very mixed feelings, but right now I am kind of excited, Still, I have been giving thought as to how I make connections and how I sustain myself financially, emotionally, spiritually, and in every way once the nest is completely empty. It’s a big canvas, and I get to choose how to fill it!

    Thanks for the good thoughts on this subject ~

  2. All that you mentioned hit me all at the same time. I am single. In 2008, my daughter left for college, I lost my job of 14 years, my boyfriend broke up with me, and all of my “friends” were people I worked with and they cut off all communication with me. (it was a bad work comp situation) I have 1 living relative, and that’s my daughter. She has since gotten married and lives about an hour and 1/2 away. They are trying to move closer. I did begin going to a psychiatrist. I’ve tried every anti-depressant they make. I gained 40 pounds. Finally I just stuck with 2, and I really don’t feel any different. The doctor wanted to do the shock treatment, or whatever they’re called now, but I didn’t have anyone to drive me. And I was kind of scared to do that.
    I’m still here because of my daughter and my pets. And I know this sounds terrible, but my pets are the main reason. My daughter knows how unhappy I am. She would be ok after awhile. My pets have been by my side 24/7. I’ve been abandoned all my life and I couldn’t abandon them.

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