Empty nest syndrome affects many parents; some have depression, anxiety, and added stress over their loved one leaving home. It is normal to feel sadness and loneliness during the time of departure; however, the emptiness can develop into a rollercoaster of emotions. There are several stages of ENS a parent may endure—not in any order or sequence.
The Identity loss stage is most common to several parents. Caring for a loved one for many years while placing their needs first as well as worrying and nurturing can be daunting, whereas your needs are overlooked and unmet. Once an adult child moves from the family’s home, the requirements for life regarding the parents often change. The need to care for someone persists as parents are seldom used to self-caring and nurturing; often, quality time with the spouse is pushed aside for years.
Change in marriage stage allows for adjustment in marriage of empty-nesters to sometimes be drastic. Those parents battling ENS may even emotionally distant themselves from their spouses while creating a barrier and stress within the marriage.
The extreme worrying stage has parents worrying about things of insignificance; they’ll even call the adult child several times throughout the day as their own attitudes are shifted to passive-aggressive.
In the grief stage, emotion associated with loss can be weighty for many parents, and those battling ENS may even feel disparaged and heartbroken.
Tips to Cope with ENS
Realize. It is normal to have unwanted emotions of sadness, so embrace the emotions as you reconstruct your life. Starting a new chapter can even be a wonderful experience, and it just might be the time for you to do that thing you’ve always wanted to do.
Restructuring is one of the best things we can do for ourselves during a dramatic change. If needed, reconstructing our marriage, our home, our finances, or even our thoughts could be a solid preparation for the journey ahead.
Acceptance. Accepting the fact that children grow up, become adults, and even move away is true evidence of growth. Simply trust in your parenting and believe that all will end well.
Support. Seek support if the weight of ENS is too overwhelming or even unbearable.
This is the time to work on self-care. ENS is manageable, providing you find and apply the proper coping skills.
If you or someone you know are suffering from Empty Nest Syndrome, contact The Walters Group.