Facing the reality of being an empty nester doesn’t have to be something to dread. It can be embraced with a new and positive perspective.
There is a grieving process when we let go of one season and move into the next. Allow yourself to grieve, while you rest in your current season of transition.
It helps to know that it’s very natural to feel a sense of loss at this time of transition. You are losing your role as a parent as you have known it.
There are, however, some ways to ease this transition. Here are some points that can encourage you on how to handle the empty nest syndrome:
1. Allow yourself to feel
Changes, even good changes, are hard. Never ignore your feelings. Emotions are part of being human. They help refine our character. Give yourself permission to feel all your emotion.
One emotion you will most likely experience during a season of transition, is loneliness. The loneliness you feel is real, but you don’t have to succumb to it. Try to resist falling into a trap of loneliness by reaching out to your family and community. Share your burdens honestly with others who care about you.
2. Crying is healthy
Cry if you need to. Crying is good for you. Let your tears speak. Crying cleanses your heart and soul.
3. Don’t rush the season you are in
In seasons of change, there is a process that is a part of life’s plan to grow you. Transitions take time and therefore, you cannot rush the process.
During this time of becoming an empty nester allow yourself to grieve. You may be grieving the loss of the family life as you have always known it, or an end of an era. It’s okay to grieve the end of a season before you move into the next one.
4. Rejoice in your Accomplishments as a Parent
There is a lot to celebrate. A child graduating from high school is something to be proud and grateful about. Your child has grown into a unique and special individual. Make sure to enjoy this season too.
5. Redefine Your Parental Role
Part of being a good parent is accepting that a natural part of life is letting go of our children. It’s time for you to fill up that empty nest with newly defined relationships with your children. May your bond with them transform into a mature, strong and deep friendship that lasts a lifetime.
Talk about setting up a regular time to talk on the phone and/or meet, if possible. Let them know you want to respect their individuality, but that you also want to understand how you can best connect with them.
It’s normal to feel emotional about your parental role changing. It is, however, important to keep in mind that this role is not gone, but is just evolving. It’s going to look different, but it’s not disappearing.
6. Think About You
As you transition into the next season of your life, it’s time to do some soul searching.
Now is the time to dig deep and ask yourself what your passions and interests are. Think about things like joining a club, study, taking on a hobby, joining a small group, and/or finding a job.
Allow yourself time to reflect on a vision and a new sense of purpose.
7. Plan Ahead
After you have thought about what you may enjoy doing, be proactive.
Take the necessary steps you need to take for your future plans.
8. Keep balance in your life
So much of life is your attitude towards your circumstances.
Look at this season of your life in a positive way.
Life is so short – enjoy each moment of it.
Believe that there are good things ahead for you and for your family. Trust in the process of life and be excited for the next stage.
9. Find Support
Intentionally reach out to others that are – or used to be- in the same boat as you. There is no better encouragement than from people that can relate.
If you are married or with a partner it is a good time to re-connect.
Make sure to discuss what each of you are going through. It may be different for each partner.
Be specific on what your needs are at this time.
10. Seek professional help if you need it.
Sometimes a season of transition is so overwhelming that you may need to seek professional help, call Cabin Counselling and ask for Pauline on 087 6203371.