The Empty Nest

What is it like when your child leaves home? How do you cope with feelings of loss, loneliness and the change of your role?

Last week I wrote about my son getting married, which was a huge miles stone in our lives, but this week I'm remembering how it was when he went off to University. There's been a lot in the media about Empty Nest Syndrome and for me as a coach of people undergoing change, this is a biggie.

I know most of you won't be in the position of waving goodbye right now but we all undergo change at some point in our lives and it can be an opportunity for reinvention.

Our son was the second and last to leave home. I remember saying goodbye to him at Leeds having finally unpacked all his stuff (how did we get his bike into the back of a convertible?), but my clearest memory 10 years on is going into his room and sobbing with grief at the finality of his leaving.

Of course it wasn't final at all, in fact we still have his stuff in our loft but that feeling of emptiness, of the end of a stage in life, is very real. You may wonder what your role is going to be now that you've officially stopped being a mother (or father, it's tough for Dads too). There may be an overwhelming feeling of loss and yes, even loneliness.

young lady waving

The shift of roles can be very confusing; you wonder how much you should still do for your child and what you should let him or her get on with. Should you remind them about booking tickets, a family birthday, to change their bed sheets? Now you have to really let go and allow them to take on responsibility. And that's HARD.

If you are a new "Empty Nester", you need to remember that you've been through various stages in your child's life, and this is just the next one. Each stage has been both an ending and a beginning of a new one. This time there is lots to look forward to. You can at last release some of the responsibilities of parenting and become more like their friend. They are independent beings now and you can forge a new exciting relationship.

Even if you feel an emptiness now, this will pass and you should look at the positives. Hopefully it means more time and freedom to spend with your partner and friends. You'll discover you can start new interests and hey, still feel young! Your child is making a big change and this is can be an opportunity to make a big change of your own. It might mean an adventurous holiday, joining a new group or just cutting your hair, but it can be a liberating time and a chance to reinvent part of your life. So if you know someone who's had to cope with this recently, please pass on these words of encouragement; and if you're about to undergo a change of some sort in your own life, remember it can be a wonderful call of freedom and self-discovery!


Categories: Home, Mood, Feelings, Marriage, Forward, Family, Overwhelm

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About Karen Burge

I found my passion in using my experiences and training to help others through whatever life threw at them. I have studied NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), Breakthrough Coaching, the Thrive Programme and the Desire Map. This means I can draw on a number of tools and pathways, creating coaching sessions that are completely bespoke to you.

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