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

Responses: 16


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.


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

Empty Nest Is Very Empty

This is the worst feeling in my life. It is not only sad and empty, but for the first time in 30 years I am finding that I'm terrified of being alone in my home.
—Guest Marlene

Coping With an Empty Nest

I had forgotten about sending in a post about empty nest problems until I saw it just now! Unfortunately I am still feel incredibly empty without my daughters. A couple of years more have passed. I guess there are some things one never gets over or accepts. For me, it's experiencing an empty nest. Time doesn't heal everything.
—Guest DebsSweet

how to get through this??

i am a mother of 3 ......my youngest son went to university we moved across the country ......i stopped working.........and ive been lost ever since.......i hate empty nestor syndrome and same time its menopause...........your kids are your focus forever then it all changes how the hell do you get through it.???? you have to reinvent yourself?? its the worst time of my life...........for men it really doesnt change.....so they really dont understand .....i hate this...........
—Guest lost in time

this is so hard

I'm a divorced mom and it has just been been me and my daughter since she was 8 years old when I divorced. we've both been through so much together. My whole life was spent loving her and protecting her. I loved the endless driving to cheer camp, orchestra, soccer, girl scouts, etc. I was even a cookie mom, a job we did together, and I loved every moment of it. I am crying now. What do I do with my time now. I love her so much. I love being a mom. I miss my little girl. Senior year was our only year of arguing, perhaps in preparation for the big separation. She is in college a thousand miles away and I cannot stop crying.
—Guest cheermom


My only child was born to me when I was an 18 year old single mother. Looking back on how ignorant I was, Im not sure how he is still alive, and the beautiful person he is today. He played his first football game as a senior on friday night, and I cried the entire game because it was the last FIRST game of HIS freaking football season!!!!THATS NOT EVEN RATIONAL!!!! I AM GOING TO NEED A THERAPIST!!!!! I am glad I work at a psychiatric facility, because I need therapy. This makes no sense. I am preparing myself, but I can already see the future. He has been the only reason reason I even went to school to btter myself for the last 18 years. I have conditioned myself to live FOR him, to work to feed him, to clothe him, and love him, and its hard to just bring that to a halt. I want him to do all the things I didnt get to do, even if that means I need to take an anti depressant/benzodiazapine cocktail that puts me in a semi-coma for the first 4-6 months hes gone.
—Guest Amanda

Taking it a day at a time

I moved my daughter into college on the same day that I attended my father's funeral. It was the same year that my ex and I separated and my middle son decided to move in with his dad. I had one child left who went back and forth between his dad's house and mine. That many losses at one time made me realize that the only way I could cope was to put one foot in front of the other and take it one day at a time. I lost my house last year and with it my youngest son who is now living with his father. In some ways it is a blessing because I am not sure how I would have made it when he decided to leave home. I was a stay at home mom. I am educated (4 year degree) but, could not find a job due to the bad economy. I am back to school working on my masters degree. It is very hard to live life without your children after spending so many years raising them. I raised my children to be independent and they are, if only I would have worked as hard on my own independence.
—Guest sjz

Empty or Broken - nest

I am not certain if the depression and panic are being triggered by an empty nest or that it is a broken nest. Can relate to the other posts here. My ex and I divorced after a long term marriage about 5 yrs ago. Along with that - my daughter was in HS when she got mad at my rules and moved in with her Dad. He quickly remarried but the woman moved in soon after my daughter did. He married her there after. I never remarried. My son wanted to move away to college but there was no money for us to help with that. In an effort to strike out and move out he decided a fight over something stupid with me was a great way to accomplish that. He moved in with his father, sister (now 22) and his fathers wife in their new home. They live within a 1/2 hour and go to college but they rarely come to see me. I see kids leaving their old school and see HS graduations and I feel as though I am choking and can't breathe. Tell me this passes. The agony is hard. No insurance for counseling.

Coping With Empty Nest

I have always had a strong sense of self-identity and I never imagined that becoming an Empty Nest mom would be so traumatic. I would say this is one of the hidden traumas of life that very few people talk about. The separation comes with a profound sense of loss, even under the best of circumstances. The key to coping with this life transition is to grieve well - to move through the various stages of grief as outlined by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross - and preferrably under the guidance of a professional and in the company of a support group. I also blog every week about this life transition as a form of journaling and as a way of processing my grief. Now as a Transitions Coach, I help other women navigate life transitions as a way to use my experience to serve others.
—Guest Theresa Froehlich

"over and out."

Having always said, "I want her to be able to leave with wings, have a map and a savings account to get herSELF there." And boy oh boy did I get what I strived for! She graduated college, completed her Masters, now with a REAL full time job and considering more education. I am "left behind" watching life in cinecolor alone. This transition has been extrememely hard on me. What now? My next foolish goal was not to demand my kids return home for the holidays: "Just come visit, anytime! Any day of the week can be a holiday when we're together!" So, last Christmas wasn't a holiday at all, but quite miserable for us. Now where do I want to put my values in the second half of my life? I am now the one who needs a map and a savings account I used up on my kids in getting them ready for life.
—Guest ThanksMom!

Can it really get better?

I feel exactly like DebsSweet-can you ever really get over it? I LOVED being a mommy. I've done the work thing, friends, hobbies, nothing compares. Help
—Guest Barbara

Pushing Him Away

Move-in day at college is crashing down upon me. I find myself picking fights with my only child. I really think this is my way of hardening my heart, which I know won't work. I anticipate a move-in day full of tears and blubbering from me, while my son will smile and say, "It's okay, Mom. You can leave now" These were his exact words on his first day of preschool. He's so much more independent than I ever was, so I guess this is my problem and not his. I've already started reconnecting with old friends - going to concerts, wine tastings, dinner. It just feels so weird after all the years of living my son's life. I now realize what I've done to myself. I crippled myself by living my life for someone else who has now grown away from me. I've promised myself that I will continue to spend more time with friends and family this coming year. I pray that God will be beside me to guide me.

Female friendships are key!

Being a young mother, when the kids left the nest I was ready to get out there in the world. The challenge was finding people to get out there with. I invented a women’s group, running a $1.75 ad in the Boulder, Colorado newspaper. WOW: Women on the Way. From it I found a life-altering friendship, which I wrote about for my memoir, “Cheap Cabernet: A Friendship.” www.CathieBeck.com. This is the time to embrace new friendships and open yourself up to find forever friends.
—Guest Cathie Beck

Feeling panicked at daughter's decision

Hi... My daughter who is 24 has been dating a man. She spends 90% of her time with him and has talked about getting married. I am happy for her but today she told me that she was getting married on Friday and I immediately felt like I was having an anxiety attack. I also have one other daughter who lives at home. The three of us have been through a lot together. Their father died when they were young and when I remarried some years later he also died. I have cried a lot today.

Empty Nest

My children were and are the most important people in my life. Both are grown and even with Celexa and Welbutrin, I can't get beyond not having them here in my arms so I can take care of them and nurture them. Almost three years since the last daughter was married. There are some things in life you never overcome. They are amazing women and I love them with all my heart.

Not the best of times

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I actually had a huge fight with my daughter just before we left her at college. It was a fairly trivial thing that started the argument, but it blew out of proportion very fast. I tried to patch things up, but we parted on a sour note. Four hours later, after we got home, I called her and we cried and apologized to each other. She seems to be settling in okay, but I can't help but wonder if the fight was intentional. Maybe that's the only way we could separate from each other without both melting into a messy, sloppy pool of tears. I've been seeing those Walmart commercials on TV where the mother helps the daughter set up her dorm room, and as the mother is leaving, the daughter runs out to give her mother a hug. I never thought I'd say this, but I wish my life were like that Walmart commercial. Something I could look back on with pride instead of regret.
—Guest Genevieve

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