It finally happened to son who had been with me since I was 18 years old, left home at the tender age of 19. How does one cope with the voluntary loss of a child? What do we do when our kids leave home and branch out with their own lives? When he announced that he was going to take off to a big city (from a small suburban Virginia town), panic immediately set in. What can we do to be released from the bonds of Empty Nest Syndrome?

The first thing I did was...cry. Who wouldn't? Very important is to release the emotions but try to keep those emotions from your child. It is important that your child feel that his or her journey from the protective confines of a home that has always been there be as positive an experience as possible. Not only do many children feel some fear and trepidation about venturing out on their own, there can also be a guilt factor that parents must allay with positive attitudes and encouragement.

As the days and weeks passed, the way that I dealt with the newness of his empty room and the vacancy of his chair at the kitchen table, was to continually remind myself that he was becoming an independent man, one who would create his own life and make his own level of success. I continually reminded myself that I had raised him to the best of my ability and that I had created a sense of ethic, moral and responsible behaviors within him.

One of the most important things you can do is stay busy. I pass the lonely times by writing, as I am doing now, taking on small part-time jobs like direct selling or small online projects. It's important to have friends, spend that extra time with spouses, parents, anyone that makes you feel better when you're around them.

When my son comes home to visit, and he does this occasionally, the hardest part is watching him depart again, but I always try hard not to smother him when he is here and definitely not do or say anything that would cause him more guilt for being away. If he feels like coming home is a positive experience where he can get some missing care (like having ALL his laundry done!) and can still escape to, he will come back more often!