An Empty Nest is especially challenging for parents who face yet another loss after divorce.
People may be experiencing the different stages of grief with their divorce, and now also mourn what was and may never be again with their child.
One goes through anger and eventually moves on to acceptance in the cycle of grief, as time goes by. This is the period to reinvent yourself and discover long last passions.
Having a quiet house seemed to be one of the worst things for me.
I brought my stereo system out of hibernation and got some tiny new speakers. I joined the vinyl craze in the states and bought some new records. Listening to old favorites with my cats around, makes loneliness a thing of the past and both of my college age sons enjoy listening to these classics when they are home.
There are ways to make this transition a little easier and reduce the loneliness that may come with the empty nest syndrome:
- Schedule something fun to do immediately after your child leaves for school. I had a facial a few hours after my youngest son left for uni and required this pampering. The kind therapist let me express my sadness as she massaged lovely aromatherapy oils on my skin. The next morning I had a latte with a pal, and a movie with another one later in the day. I met with friends for the first several days of this transition.
- Get together with other Empty Nesters for support and fun. My friend Patti formed a group with her son’s classmates’ parents and they meet once a month. It used to be for tears, but now it is for laughter and camaraderie.
- Delay doing big projects until after your child is gone. This is the time to organize your home office or tackle the mess in your garage. Being focused on a large task, decreases time to dwell on one’s new situation.
- Expand your social or professional groups. I joined a MeetUp.com group and can go out weekly for lattes, lectures or other activities. I joined Toastmasters International to become a more effective speaker.
- Join some groups and organizations. The Women’s Institute (WI) evolved from traditional activities during WW1, to fencing, DIY classes and teaching other skills now. The WI is having a resurgence of new members with many in their 30’s. There is even a WI goth group in London and I have discovered many new Scandinavian authors from my book club.
- Go back to school for pleasure classes or to advance your career. I took a computer class after my son left. An acquaintance obtained her teaching degree during her Empty Nest period. She was so busy with these courses that she barely had time to think about her kids that had flown the nest.
- Get out of your comfort zone and build self-esteem. This is the time to climb up Kilimanjaro or find charity treks around the UK or far flung places. Expand your fitness level as you train for these endeavours or join an exercise class. I started Zumba and Tai Chi during this episode.
- Consider hosting a foreign exchange student for a few weeks or a school year. You will have a student who needs care and advice in your home. You may end up with a new family member for life as some people have told me. These people enjoyed learning about other cultures and visiting their “kids.”
- Take a trip to get away and be in a new environment. Visit old friends who may be going through the Empty Nest as well. Go overnight to a nearby spa for some pampering.
- Volunteer and give something back to others. I love feeling needed with my weekly volunteering at a cat rescue group. The kitties purr with their appreciation. Consider adopting a new pet. If unable to commit, foster a cat or dog short-term.
There was a study released in the states that indicated a correlation with getting breast cancer around eighteen months after the last child left home.
When I thought about the people I know who had breast cancer, this was the time that they discovered it as well. A woman told me this week that her surgeon said there is a connection between strong sad emotions and the occurrence of some prostate and breast cancer. This research of emotional states increasing the risk for cancer is in its early stages, but I am having as much fun as possible to decrease my chances for it.
Author of The Woman’s Holistic Guide to Divorce
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