Expert Contribution

Graduations, Celebrations, Now What?

(The Journey Beyond Empty Nesting)

You did everything right. You supported your children through their successes and challenges. You cheered for them and you comforted them. Your life has been a roller coaster as you survived the trials and celebrations of parenting. The invitations are now out and you are ready for the graduation traditions. Then why do you feel that void, that feeling of incompleteness? If you can relate to any of this, you may be experiencing empty nest syndrome. Though there is no clinical diagnosis, empty nest syndrome is a phenomenon where parents feel sadness, a sense of loss, a void, as their last child heads to college or moves on to their next stage of life. 

For some people, this is a reminder that time waits for no one. As your child moves into their next journey, how do you acknowledge what you are feeling to transition into your own next chapter of your life? You want to support them as they transition to independence. Yet, you are also acknowledging you need more for yourself, too. 

Since a child moving out of the house is a healthy and normal occurrence, the symptoms of empty nest syndrome often goes unrecognized. This can result in a loss of purpose for a parent, especially if the parent is a full time, stay at home parent. How do you create a healthy transition during this natural stage of life? 

To begin, it is important to recognize what you are experiencing. There are three major characteristics of empty nesters: 1. Grief; 2. A sense of emptiness; 3. The combination of fear and worry. Once you identify what you are experiencing and recognize the symptoms, you can manage your own wellness to be present for your family and especially for yourself. 

As you have name what you are experiencing, acknowledge that this is normal. However, to dwell at this stage may cause depression, anxiety and other mental and physical issues. Fortunately, this is about coping to rejuvenate yourself. 

In the age of technology, it is easy to text, FaceTime and Zoom with your children. However, you want to respect your adult child’s space and allow them to reach out to you. They need to strengthen their wings of independence. 

That means it is time for you to explore your hobbies, interests and career/volunteer goals. What excited you before being a parent that you can revive? What interests would you like to explore? Brainstorming with a significant other, a friend, or even a professional coach can spark the inner fire you let smolder while you nurtured others. It is time to replace the meaningful experience of parenting with other activities that bring out your passions and provide you meaning. Experts also advise to keep a journal to work out your grief and sense of loss as you move forward to this next phase of living. 

Finally, may I invite you to consider rekindling your marriage and other relationships. With children, we often sacrifice adult relationships for our children. This includes time with your spouse now that you are not revolving around the children. 

This next stage – the empty nest stage – can be the most empowering time of your life. It is up to you to allow that to happen by truly searching into your inner core of who you want to be. If you are stuck, it may be time to reach out to a professional. EYHLifeCoach is your partner in creating excitement and meaning about everything your future holds for you. Contact us today!

Christina Dalton is the Principal of EYH Life Coach. She applies her own personal and career transitions along with several degrees and credentials to provide insight and knowledge into the coaching experience. Christina handpicks her staff, all of whom are ICF credentialed and have unique experiences to create invaluable coaching sessions. 

By Christina Dalton, MS, PPS, PCC, EYH Life Coach 

About The Author

Life Coach
Christina Dalton
EYH Life Coach

Christina Dalton is the principal Life Coach for Expanding YOUR Horizons. She is credentialed through ICF as a PCC, Professional Certified Coach. She has worked with people in all stages of life; including students, families, new businesses, etc. Christina embodies the passion and enthusiasm for you to reach your FULL professional and personal potential. “Working with us is a wonderful journey in growth fueled by empowerment, passion and execution.”

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