Overcoming the Empty Nest Syndrome
My husband and I raised three children. Now they are all grown-ups and gone. Our youngest daughter started it all. She left the nest to fly to Michigan for her graduate studies in survey methodology. We saw her off at the airport with a heavy heart. When she and my husband cried, I couldn’t. The tears came later after the reality of it all was confirmed.
Every day that I passed by her closed room proved to be an ordeal. As if my legs would not carry me beyond her closed room. It was only after a few months that I felt the strength to finally get inside that room. I spent hours sorting through her stuff, figuring out which ones had to go and which ones she might want to go back to when she comes home. If she comes home.
Our eldest daughter left after a year, leaving for Maryland to teach S.P.E.D. Although the farewells were not as dramatic as the first goodbye, it was still hard to let go of someone you nourished for 20 or more years. There were fits of crying—alone, of course, so as not to disrupt the normal routine.
At least we still had a son but he lived apart from us. The transfer to our new home in the suburbs distracted me for a while. But when my son broke the news to us about his posting to another foreign country, I could not hold back my tears, again in private. And every time he comes home for a week or two, it is like a new life for me. When he left us again and again, it’s like a piece of me is torn and broken each time.
Honestly, I’ve come to dread the day any one of them would come home, then leave us again. I lived through all of these, thanks to the following measures that I took: prayer and meditation, teaching, gardening, raising cats and dogs, beading and crocheting. Now I am also writing and soon journaling will be another therapeutic activity. In between, I go shopping with my sister who is in the same situation. Over cups of tea and coffee, we share our heartaches and little joys at good news from the other side of our world when the children remember us with their emails.
Life seems normal nowadays. When the blues start to hit me, there’s always television and the movies. And now that I have stumbled on Divine Caroline—my days will surely be filled to the brim. As life must go on and we have to move on, as the saying goes, so it must be. No more moping and going back to the past—except to reminisce about the good memories. And I thank God and my spirituality for continuing to give us the strength to meet life and all of its challenges.
The nest may be empty now, but that is how it should be. Nests are meant for the young so they could be cared for—nourished until they grow the wings they need to fly out and build their own nests. These days, my husband and I have reached a level of acceptance enabling us to transcend all the pains. With the promise of a good life before us, why stay in the past when the future beckons? So much to do and so little time left. We can still make a difference and the challenge is out there. We have been blessed so much and now it is time to give back.