Although the way life is today, it is increasingly difficult for young people to leave the family home and become independent, however, it is something that sooner or later ends up happening. The normal thing is that the children “fly” and that the parents begin a new stage, which can be very positive and rewarding but also cause feelings of sadness, loneliness, or loss. Therefore, if your children have started their lives as adults, empty nest syndrome is a phenomenon that can occur and you must be prepared to face it.
What is empty nest syndrome?
After a lifetime of caring for children, paying attention to each aspect of their development, from nutrition to education, their successes and failures, the time comes for the children to leave home. The feelings of joy and, even of certain relief, because the children are finally beginning their own lives, are also intermingled with those of sorrow and nostalgia, something totally logical and human. Well, this stage in which contradictory feelings come together in what is currently known as empty nest syndrome, which can be a transitory period, absolutely natural, or it can get complicated over time.
There is talk of empty nest syndrome when this situation manifests itself with painful feelings, deep loss and a feeling of emptiness, which even lead to not finding the meaning of life without children and that can trigger, in parents, even diseases, as depression, as pointed out by experts from the American Mayo Clinic.
Symptoms of empty nest syndrome
Each person, mother or father, can deal in a very different way with the new situation that causes their children to leave home, also known as flying out of the nest. Missing the children and feeling that the house is too quiet and empty is logical, but these feelings can end up being excessive and pathological. Some symptoms that indicate that the empty nest syndrome has been installed not as a natural and transitory stage, but as a worrying situation, which may even require professional help from expert psychologists are the following:
- Deep sadness and feeling of emptiness. When these feelings are not limited to a moment of nostalgia but mark the day today. In particular, a mother with empty nest syndrome translates her life with attitudes of total discouragement, abandonment, and reluctance towards life itself, it can lead to worrying situations. You should also keep in mind that empty nest syndrome in men is also evident, therefore, it affects both in the same way.
- Irritability. Arguments with your partner or close relatives and sudden mood swings can be another important indicator. Feelings of anger because the child has left or thoughts that they have been “ungrateful” are also symptoms that should be recognized and treated.
- Abuse of harmful substances such as alcohol, stimulants, or sleeping pills.
- Anchorage in the past. According to experts, the departure of a child can be compared in some cases to a grieving process with its corresponding stages. Not going through these stages, constantly going back to the past and idealizing it by remembering when the children were young (for example, seeing photographs or videos of family events over and over again) is also an easily recognizable symptom that you are experiencing an empty nest syndrome.
- Frequent crying, anxiety, and unjustified fear when thinking that something bad could happen to the children.
How to overcome empty nest syndrome
Each person can deal with empty nest syndrome in a different way and, in addition, certain circumstances can aggravate its incidence. For example, you should know that the empty nest syndrome and menopause are related since when the departure of the children coincides with the menopause period in the case of women or with the end of the working stage of both parents, among other situations can complicate this syndrome. Therefore, being aware of what is happening and facing it is the best way to overcome it. If you want to know how to overcome sadness when children leave, do not miss these tips:
- Assume with a positive attitude the fact that children fly because it is something good for everyone and it is “the law of life”.
- Keep in touch. Leaving home does not mean that the family relationship is broken even if they take up residence in another country since new technologies make it easy to maintain contact. In addition, meeting for lunch from time to time, visiting the child’s new home, and keeping a hand out in case they need, at some point, the help of parents, can help overcome it, it will make it easy to overcome the empty nest syndrome
- Enjoy the recovered time. How many things did you want to do have you postponed to take care of the children? Traveling, going out with friends, going back to the movies or the theater, or signing up for yoga classes or ballroom dancing are ideal activities that you can start. It’s a perfect time!
- Reunion with the couple. Why not enjoy life together again?
- Assume nostalgia as something natural. They have been in your life probably at least in the last 20 or 25 years (or more) How can you not miss them? Take it as normal and enjoy the beautiful memories without getting stuck in them.
- Professional help. As you can see, the consequences of empty nest syndrome are visible, so if you really have a hard time getting through this stage, don’t hesitate to ask for the psychological help you need.
This article is merely informative, at DolBoard we do not have the power to prescribe any medical treatment or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to go to a doctor in the event of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.