According to Irene McGee at fyiliving.com, the spiral of sad emotions that a parent may feel when a child goes off to college can lead some parents to severe clinical depression. The feelings that they feel are definitely real and painful. I have felt the pain from the empty nest syndrome. It is no joke.
I went through the empty nest syndrome with my younger sister. She lived with me after our mother died. Even though, I had several younger children when she got her first apartment, I felt a void in my life. I did not see it coming and was not ready at all. It felt like a brick hit me. I vowed to not go through that with my other children. This was a learning lesson for me. After going through it, I prepared myself with my other children.
The Empty Nest
The syndrome takes its name from young birds flying out of their nests once old enough to fly, leaving their parents behind.
Some women may experience grief when that child goes off to college. However, the husband may think, “Finally 1 down and 3 more to go.” He is just elated to get the children out of the house. In fact, some fathers are so happy, they readily start making plans for the extra room that is in the house now.
Your attitude about the empty nest is important too. According to Tara Parker-Pope of nytimes.com, a lesson learned from the empty nest is that parents may need to carve out more stress-free time together. Sounds like parents need to change their way of thinking. I know that I changed my thinking.
I recall watching the Bill Cosby show. I observed that he was always intent on eventually getting all the children out of the house. Although this is a serious time, he kept me laughing, because of his intentions of getting the children out of the house.
A few tips that helped me through the empty nest syndrome:
I recall Volunteering for the Adult Illiteracy Coalition. That was one of the most rewarding experience for me. It was just awesome. My pastor often said that a great way to help yourself when you are going through some things is to help others, and then you have less time to have a pity-party for yourself. I know that is true. I really cared and became concerned about those that I was helping. I had no time to feel sad or even depressed. The volunteer experience was incredible. Surprisingly many adults do not know how to read. I recall an older gentleman at my church that went back to school to learn to read. I asked him why he wanted to go back. It is simple for him. He stated, “I want to read to my grandchildren and I want to know how to read my bible scriptures correctly.” I thought that is as good a reason as any. This also was an excellent example for others to let them know it is not too late to learn to read. This type of attitude is very impressive.
When I volunteered, I learned some things too. I learned that those adults that are not able to read will compensate by being able to make good conversation. I also, learned that many will carry a newspaper and even hold it and pretend that they are reading. When in a bind, I have learned there are those that will actually lie and say that they forgot their glasses. Then they will ask someone to please read a certain sentence for them. I discovered those that cannot read will use a variety of tricks so as not to let anyone know that they can’t read. Some told me they do this out of shame. Others told me that they thought it was too late and that they were too old to learn to read. I responded to them by saying the biggest mistake they or anyone can make is to not do anything? I would constantly emphasize to never give up. I have even taught those that have beautiful singing voices. I have taught those that sing in choirs and other places, but unfortunately, they could not read.
I also, went back to school to get my Bachelor degree. That really kept me busy. I had 2 children in college at the same time. I recall not knowing how to use a mouse or a computer. I seemingly just could not get the hang of it. When my daughter came home for the weekend I asked her to help me learn. She told me, “Mama you cannot learn it all in one day.” But I felt I needed to learn as soon as possible, because I had many papers that were due and little time to do it. I knew how to use a typewriter, but a computer was new for me. It was like learning a foreign language. To my surprise when I did get my degree, my children were very supportive of me in my attempt. I will never forget my graduation. The weather was very bad, almost like a blizzard and it was a very bitter cold, but the auditorium was full of those that came to support the graduates. That was a very good feeling. I was so busy with papers and speeches for class; I had no time for any pity-parties. It was an even better feeling when I got my degree.
Graduating Class of University of Canterbury
According to the May Clinic, It might be difficult to suddenly have no children at home who need your care. I know if you have never gone through it or even anticipated it; it is a rude awakening for you.
Now if you find yourself suffering from empty nest syndrome, know that you can do something about it. Most importantly, find interests that are of importance to you and keep busy accomplishing those interests and deferred dreams.