Yes. It’s real.
Psychology Today describes empty nesting this way:
“feelings of depression, sadness and/or grief experienced by parents and caregivers after children come of age and leave their childhood home.”
What is Empty Nest Syndrome really? It’s the loss of a mission or role. For decades, you took care of your child in your house and now they’re no longer home.
With that role gone, it can be difficult to know what to do next.
Any major changes in life can cause sadness and depression.
This can happen in job gain and loss, retirement, moving, the loss of a family member, the birth of a child, a new adult trying to forge a path and in many other circumstances.
Empty nesting is a transition point and loss that can be difficult to handle and comes with some disillusionment.
Since empty nesting is real, here are some thoughts to help.
Varying Levels of Empty Nesting Sadness
Do your best to be sensitive to your spouse, family and friends who are going through empty nesting.
Each person’s symptoms are different. They can range from minor to severe depending on the person and their level of involvement in raising their child.
Telling those who are struggling that it isn’t real or to just “toughen up” only increases a person’s sadness.
Your Child Still Needs You
Your child may have recently left your home. They still need you, though. And that will always be the case.
Remembering this can help relieve some of your sadness. Some of the most meaningful and satisfying parent-child interaction happens after the empty-nest stage begins.
Yes, empty nesting marks the end of a mission. Every parent hopes for a well-adjusted child who can live on their own. You just helped to fulfill that mission.
Now you take on the role of mentor, life coach and friend to your child in a new way. You’re further down the path of life than your child and will be a great help.
Your children will value your input as you help them through the intricacies of life. You’ll also be a key influencer for your present or up-and-coming grandchildren.
Empty nesting may mark the end of a specific mission with your children but it by no means is the end.
In fact, your mission just became larger and arguably better. But it may take some time and sadness before this is easy to see.