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Readers Respond: How Are You Coping With an Empty Nest?

Responses: 30

By

Until your child leaves home, it's impossible to imagine just how hard empty nest syndrome can hit you. Even the most independent of women often feel pangs of regret. Whether you're experiencing occasional twinges of sadness, full-blown panic attacks, or an overwhelming sense of depression, it helps to know other mothers have survived empty nest syndrome.

I understand....

I also feel so empty and afraid to be in my home alone. Where did all my independence go to? I never knew I could feel so much emptiness. We will all somehow get thru this.
—Guest Beth

What do I do now?

I had my kids when I was in my 30's and had been working, but no true career, since I was 15. I hadn't been to college at 18 but managed to get my BA before my 2nd son was born. But having kids fulfilled every single part of me that I was almost unaware of even having. I loved ALL of it, even being up with them when they were sick. Now they are 19 and 21 and both in college. I am grateful for the memories I have, but I have no idea what to do now! I'm 55, not young enough for a new career (not that I would know what to even look at) but not old enough to retire. Yet meeting the whole family's needs for 20 years has been exhausting in its own way. My husband doesn't understand my emotions or my confusion. What do you do when you don't have any dreams for the future? Lots of people say, "Start a business!" "Start a new career!" but I'm not entrepreneurial at all. And I don't want to just take some crap job if I don't have to, just to fill in the time.
—Guest JB

Grieving Never Stops

My heart goes out to every woman here who is experience the deep emotional pain of children leaving home and leaving us behind which is exactly what it feels like. I have been grieving this for over 5 years and at the same time alone because of a divorce. Sometimes I feel like I'm having a breakdown - no pills nor counselling really help. Now I know what my Mom went through. I suppose it's a life style change for us women but I ask myself - what now? where is the Joy - seems as if all that is left behind in the memories of raising our children. But, I tell myself that God will somehow see me through this trial and tribulation and I pray for every one of the women here - we don't deserve to suffer so much -- we must find some JOY! some strength! May God help us!! Remember that you are NOT ALONE - WE are in this "together."
—Guest Marie

Response to Marlene

Marlene - I can totally relate to what you say and how you feel. Realize that you are not alone, that I, and others feel exactly the same way you do. What helps me through my sorrow and anxiety is to recite the 23rd Psalm - and also to say, "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." It IS a sad, empty time for us mothers going through the empty nest syndrome but what can we do? Life HAS to go on for our children and also for US - somehow we must find some JOY & PEACE! Glenda
—Guest Glenda

Think of what your own Mom went through

I am going through empty nest syndrome. My daughter left the house quite late (26 yrs old) and moved out with her boyfriend who is wonderful. They are in love and I'm very happy for them. But still ... I have been a divorced Mom since she was 5 years old and we, too, have been through so much together. The thing is though is that we must help ourselves through this! We must. The best times in life are, no doubt, being a Mom when our kids are growing up. We participate in everything with them and drive them to games, sports, have overnight slumber parties - you name it. It's terribly hard to think all of that is forever gone and only a wonderful memory now. But think about your own Mothers who went through this before us. They somehow got through it and managed to survive it. Now I can see what my own Mom went through. I guess the way I am looking at it is if she went through it and came out the other side then I can do it too! What other choice do we have? Have faith!
—Guest Susan

Mom Mum

I miss my children's touch a hug a kiss an embrace a night night hug a pat hand holding So sad! I won't kill myself I will wait for that embrace Memories!!
—Guest Janet

Empty

I don't think I will ever be the way I was and neither will my life. I miss my daughter so much since she left for college, it is like the light has gone out in my life. I adopted her as a single mother. She was my dream come true after decades of infertility, a divorce, years of being lost, and I opened the hotel room door in China and there she was--the daughter I dreamed of and even named when I was in high school. I adopted a son whom I love and is still home, but he is, as he puts it, a guy. We have a different closeness and I thank God he is here but I miss my daughter and everything that came with her from her walking in everyday and saying "hi Mom" with her sunny disposition and our talks about nothing. I miss her I miss her I miss her. I have no advice, I just want to be able to let her go like I always said I knew I had to...And now I can't. I am in this empty place filled with the absence of her. I know I am being selfish but I want it all back. I want her back.
—Guest Mary

Depressed

Now that my children are grown up my life is so changed. I feel like they don't need me anymore and that kills me. I crave for their affection but it seems with time they are becoming more distant. I had thought that blood relations would entitle me to unconditional love but it doesn't seem so. Children get so involved with their own lives that they hardly have time for their parents. It is so agonizing to realize that although they are our life but we do not have much usefulness in their lives. I know I should let them go, should not expect anything from them...their love,their attention, ...but how? I keep visualizing them as little and coming running into my arms, rocking them until they slept,sitting at their bedside when they fell sick.... Now when my daughter and I can hardly have an argument free conversation, I feel so sad that she has so much of disgust for me. When our children grow up should we cease to be a parent? Keep away from them? Do not advise them or worry for them?
—Guest Runa

Freaking Out

My youngest son is barely twenty years old, yet he is graduating from college this December. He is 600 miles away at college now. Both of my sons were adopted from Korea as infants. Now this one wants to go back and live there! He wants to cut contact with me and his dad indefinitely so that he can find "his identity". While this may make sense to him in his mind, he has never been back there and knows nothing about foreign travel. Where will he live and work? He only knows a little bit of Korean. He doesn't understand how it tears me apart to know I won't be able to call or even text or email him. I will always be worried if he is ok. He is not angry with us, but he feels that he doesn't belong here and he needs to be with Koreans at least for now. All I can do is pray and turn it over to God. Has anyone else encountered anything like this where contact was lost with your child for a long long time? It hasn't happened yet, but I'm dreading it.
—DailyDaisy

Great Loss

It's embarrasing to say, but this is all about me! I made sure my daughters had opportunities I didn't have. I didn't go away to college, was not independent, did not make the college memories. Along with being lonesome, I'm actually jealous of what they have. I feel so old, although I'm only 47. My identity is that I'm a mom. I don't have a career that I enjoy, and I think that's at the root of my sadness. I see my daughters going off to pursue their life work. I never got to to do that, and feel it's too late for me to do that now. Who will hire a 50 year-old over a 23 year-old. I find I'm regretting times where I didn't appreciate what I had. I'm crying as I type. I think that empty nest brings on mid-life crises. I feel the best of life is behind me. I'm just feeling sorry for myself. That's embarrasing, and can't share that with anyone. I should be celebrating my daughter's success, and instead I amso jealous!!
—Guest Aileen

Empty nest - broken heart

Not coping well. My youngest we t to college a week ago. I have a good job, am active in church, have a hobby etc. Yet, I am grieving and cry a lot and feel physically sick at my stomach. My mind frequently turns to memories of my son and older daughter (a senior in college) when they were younger and my heart feels like it is breaking into . I liked my life before he left and I want it back. My mind knows that they are supposed to grow up and away but my heart does not. I also feel old for the first time in my life (mid 50s) and fear that he best part of my life is over. I cannot sleep well and feel awful. I fear this will never go away.
—Guest Baseball mom

Then it's not just me...

Mom of three, our youngest is in his last year of college but lives there year round. We rarely see any of them now as they are quite independent. As many shared here, I loved being a mom and miss being a family. We have no relatives in this part of the country and everyone in our age group seems to be in their own little worlds. What a sad and lonely time. Will it always be like this?
—Guest Missy

Huge Onslaught of Emotions ..

I've been separated for nearly half of my 20 year marriage. My oldest son left the nest, I cried. After 3 years, he came home to go to college. The oldest lived with me, the youngest with his father in the same town. I worked an hour away for 12 years. My youngest graduated in May this year and I moved closer to work in June. College doesn't start until August, but a week into my move, I realized my youngest son wouldn't be able to 'drop by' 4-5x/week like he used to and it upset me greatly. That's when ENS hit me full force. It's been awful since (7 days so far). I feel useless. I hear myself say, "what do I do now"? My 'baby' is the separation that is killing me. He's not a Mama's boy, but we did things together .. and now I feel as if I've abandoned him. I text him and he responds, but it's not the same. My oldest son says my emotions are causing me to think my youngest feels abandoned, but he doesn't. I'm trying to find interests but I have no desire to do anything.
—Guest Michelle

Falling apart

My whole life has fallen apart since my daughter has gone on to live her own life. I would not mind if we had the same friendship, but we don't. When she left she changed in her attitude towards me and she is like a totally different girl. I miss the person my daughter used to be. When she does come to visit she acts like a total stranger. She cannot relax and so does not stay long. Her visits are rare. Some times I feel I just cannot bear it. I am so depressed and feel so lonely. Never knew life would end up like this. Now I know why old people look so sad!!
—Guest Vera

Horrible

We were forced to transfer across country the year between child #1's graduation and child #2's junior year. Now they're on one coast, having graduated into this crap economy, and we're on the other juggling a new life here and subsidizing theirs as well. I don't sleep, I'm overwhelmed with anxiety, I feel engulfed by a fog of depression and can't see a light or a way out anywhere. This is the worst I've ever felt in my life. I wish we'd had more transition time, I wish we'd been able to stay home so they'd have a place to live rent-free while they got their feet on the ground. I feel ripped apart by this. My oldest is struggling and depressed, and my youngest is stagnating as she works 2 crap jobs to make ends meet. This sucks. It just sucks and I don't know if it will ever end.
—Guest Nina

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