Grief During the Empty Nest Syndrome

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Close-up of a young sad woman sharing her grief with a psychotherapy specialist during an individual counseling meeting.

Television makes us believe that when parents experience the Empty Nest Syndrome, they are elated. Shows and commercials show happy parents making plans for their departing kids’ rooms, often before the kids leave the house. While it is true that some parents feel this way, the truth is likely they feel some grief in the process as well.
It is a new stage for both the parents and the kids. It is a new life for both. The parents will have the freedom that they have not experienced in a very long time. The kids will make decisions without the permission of their parents.
For both, when the dust settles, there is a sense of loneliness and in some cases, dread. It is true that they are only a phone call away or even a quick Facebook chat update. But it’s not the same. For the parents, they start to realize that their kids are now grown ups. The former life of comforting their kids is going away. They grew accustomed to being in charge and acting in that authoritative capacity.
For the kids, they are likely to make bad decisions early in the process just because they can. It won’t matter to them because of the freedom involved with those decisions. They no longer need their parents’ permission to do anything. You may remember a television ad several years ago where a young man turns on all the lights and leaves all the doors open. He shouts out to his father saying, “look what I am doing, Dad!” as if his father can hear him. The message was that the son was in charge now.
In the end, both parents and kids will get used to this new life. But, this doesn’t mean that either one won’t have some amount of grieving to do along the way. It’s a natural part of life. Parents will eventually come to enjoy their newfound freedom associated with the empty nest. But the transition will take a bit of time to adjust. They will always look at their children in a nurturing way and will be there for them. But they know that the children have to make a life for themselves.
It’s not always easy to let go, but the new relationship that exists between the parents and adult children is one both will eventually come to cherish, assuming the relationship was strong, to begin with.
Citizen Counselling and Coaching have a number of our counsellors and coaches in Birmingham who can provide support for grief, loss and bereavement. This can include patient one to one support, creating practical coping strategies and through sharing techniques and models that have worked for others. We also have specialist counsellors who work with children aged 4 upwards.
Our ‘My Grief & Loss Coach’ online programme and Coaching was designed for time poor busy people looking to manage their grief and loss or for those who don’t feel they can talk with a counsellor or coach one to one at this stage.

Our Grief and Loss page can explain more

You will find our online programme ‘My Grief & Loss Coach here