My kids are gone after 20 years. Now what? What do I do with the sadness? How do I reinvent myself? What’s my calling now? How do I deal with empty nest syndrome?
For decades, I poured my life into my children and household, and I volunteered my heart out on the side. My dear progeny are all grown now and have flown away to college and beyond, and here I am, left behind a thousand miles away. I am dealing with full-blown empty nest syndrome, and while parts of the change are actually wonderful, some days are just sad. How do I cope with all these new circumstances and feelings?
Here are three ways I’m dealing with empty nest syndrome.
- Be honest and ask for help. I’m daily telling God exactly how I feel and asking Him for help. He is there and He cares. He knows all about what I’m facing. I don’t need to hide anything or pretend that I’m feeling fine if I’m not. Those thoughts telling me I don’t have the right to experience the blues are just lies. Yes, my kids are alive and well, happy and succeeding, but I don’t get to see them anymore! I don’t know nearly as much about their daily lives anymore. Sure, this is a very small problem compared to others around me, but God tells me to pray about anything that is worrying me.
- Be patient. I’m giving myself time to go through all the stages of this weird phenomenon. I’ve never done this before, so I’m giving myself a break. Transitions can take a while. But I know God will see me through this as I wait for Him. This kind of waiting involves a lot of listening to hear what God wants me to do with the extra time I have without kids in the house. The options have multiplied, so I need His wisdom and guidance as to how to reinvent myself. The rest of my life is just getting started, and there’s still a calling on it! I may not know exactly who I am right now or who I’ll turn out to be, but God sure does!
- Hold on and let go. This is major at this stage of the game. This is the key. I’m not going to descend into depression or have a midlife crisis, because I’m holding on to God with all my strength, while letting go of my kids. They were only entrusted to me temporarily. And they’re not going off into nothingness; I’m releasing them into His supremely capable, wise, and loving hands. He can hold my hand and theirs simultaneously. It’s time for them to soar and fly far from the nest, but there’s nowhere they can go that He isn’t there with them. I can trust God completely with my kids, whether they are paying any attention to Him or not.