“I can’t wait until my kids are grown”. We all say it, but rarely do we ever mean it. In actuality, this can be the hardest time of a parent’s life.
What is Empty Nest Syndrome Exactly?
While it may be referred to as a “syndrome”, empty nest isn’t actually a clinical diagnosis, but more of a phenomenon. When the time comes for your child to leave home, it is usually a bittersweet moment. In one sense, we have groomed them to be responsible adults, but then at the same time, it is scary to think they may not need us anymore.
Empty nest is a deep sense of loneliness, intense worry, and overwhelming sadness when your child moves out of your home. Some of the outward signs are:
• Isolation or agoraphobia
• Panic attacks
• Extreme grief
• Loss of interest in social activities
For some parent’s this becomes almost debilitating. While these feelings are normal, some individuals need help learning to cope.
Mothers seem to be more affected, but fathers and other caregivers can certainly have these feelings too. Single parents or those with marital problems tend to have a tougher time with the separation as well. People who experience this great sense of loss may also be more prone to alcoholism, drug addiction and depression.
Ways to Cope with Empty Nest Syndrome
Think of this as a new adventure, rather than a loss. This is a great time to experience all those things you couldn’t do because you had children at home. Many couples use this time to rediscover romance. You may also find this is the perfect time to rekindle old friendships and form new ones.
Do not be ashamed of your feelings. What you are going through is absolutely normal. Missing the children that you have formed such a strong bond with is nothing to be embarrassed about. Opening up to friends and family about how you’re feeling can be quite therapeutic.
Keep in contact with your kids. With today’s technology, it is easier than ever to keep close ties with children that are away. Calls, texts, social media and video chat keep us connected like never before.
Get help if you need it. If you just can’t seem to snap out of it, talking to a professional may be the best solution. Cognitive therapy can be extremely helpful with empty nest.
The more you prepare yourself for the moment your children will leave, the easier this transition will be on the entire family. If you are able to indulge yourself in new things and stay active leading up the big event, the less likely you are to fall into deep depression.
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