Monday, June 28, 2010

Empty Nest Syndrome

Empty Nest Syndrome is a phrase used to explain the psychological experience of loss when a child leaves home. Often shortened to Empty Nest, parents move through feelings of sadness, loss and worries regarding their own identity since their day-to-day responsibilities have changed.

Empty Nest is most often seen in the Fall when teenagers leave for college, in Summer when kids leave for camp - but can occur anytime a child leaves home (getting married, new job, etc.)

Some parents move through the transition of children leaving home without much difficulty. Others experience bouts of weepiness, loneliness or irritability. These are very normal and natural.

If you find that time has not helped you adjust to your new life, and symptoms are worsening, it might help to seek a support group like Daily Strength Empty-Nest Support Group or consider professional help. Attachment and loss can be an overwhelming experience for some parents. Don't let the excitement of your child's new life make you feel as if you have to hide your heartache.


14 comments:

Ami said...

I'm trying to add things in a bit at a time so that I won't have such a hard time when they go... but I'm not looking forward to the time.

I wonder how many people actually think ahead to when it happens...

Wanda's Wings said...

Both of my children left the home within 6 months of each other. My youngest child was lost due to his death. It has been 5 months since the death of my youngest and I still cry very frequently. I talk to my daughter every week, but miss her and worry how she is doing. She suffer from a mental illness which adds to my worries. I just can't seem to cope with the death of my son despite having attended a grief recovery group.

Dr. Deb said...

Ami,
It's natural to not look forward to going when you make plans. It's good that you are adding things a bit at a time.

Wanda,
What you are going through is *not* the norm. You need time and support to help you through all of these things. Cry as much as you need to get your feelings out...and let others know when you need them.

blogbehave said...

Great topic, Dr. Deb. Especially with so many baby boomers going through this.

I thought I'd add my thoughts. Empty nest could be experienced in a more intense fashion or for a longer period when earlier loss hasn't been resolved, say the death of a parent.

Similarly, a dysfunctional relationship or too few relationships (i.e., loneliness) can trigger a greater degree of empty nest.

So if empty nest feelings are overwhelming, or if time doesn't seem to be helping, addressing these other issues may prove helpful.

Dr. Deb said...

Sandy,
Excellent points!!!

Jade said...

My parents definitely went through "Empty Nest Syndrome" it took a good 2 years for them to totally come out of it. I can only imagine how tough it is to have your kids with you for so many years and then have to let them spread their wings. My parents lucked out though, lol and so did my brother and I. Once we were out we stayed out!
Hope the summer is treating you well Deb.

Jade said...
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Marj aka Thriver said...

Important subject and good ideas. This is timely as my sister is going through this now with her youngest starting college.

Big Brother said...

For us it wasn't really a problem. They don't love too far and we see them often. Our son often brings our twin grand-daughters to visit so the house isn't really empty.

Big Brother said...

For us it wasn't really a problem. They don't love too far and we see them often. Our son often brings our twin grand-daughters to visit so the house isn't really empty.

purple cupcakes said...

we have already planned for that moment we are saving to head overseas and open a small shop in germany LOL

Oh and we passed our course

Erin Merryn said...

I remember when my younger sister left home for college...the last one to leave. My mother was crying everyday non-stop. So much that after two weeks we both had to come home from college for labor day weekend just to help her adjust. Now we filled the nest again since we both graduated college.

sandy said...

Excellent list. I probably have to work hardest at saying no. Have definitely improved over the years but it's often a struggle. The procrastination thing? Let's not go there ;)

Anonymous said...

I've just arrived home from taking my youngest daughter and all her worldly goods, 1200 km away to go to school. I am completely despondent. I am on the verge of tears all the time and have to battle my feelings so that I don't succumb to overwhelming despair. My head knows this is a good thing for her, but my heart aches to have her here with me. Selfish I know but for some reason it just didn't occur to me that she would ever leave. Why is this sooo hard? I feel abandoned. :(