Mr. and Mrs. Smith are a 50-year-old couple whose children recently moved out of the house. Their son left to pursue further studies and their daughter got married a year ago. Now the house feels like an empty nest and the parents are feeling extremely lonely. They think of considering an empty nester support group. Do you know how long it takes to get over empty nest syndrome?
In this article we will answer some questions couples have about empty nest syndrome, especially the meaning. We will also discuss empty nester support groups and how they work. Along with this, you will also understand how long each stage lasts and how to overcome these feelings of loneliness.
Let us start by defining key terms – empty nest syndrome and support group. You will come across this term throughout the article which will help you understand the topic better.
- Empty Nest Syndrome – It is a feeling of grief or pain that parents feel when their child moves out of their home. Children leave the house for various reasons such as studies or post-marriage. Parents, especially mothers find it difficult to accept this major life change which leaves them overwhelmed.
- Support group – It is a group of people with similar issues that come together to share and discuss their feelings. With the help of this group, people can share their experiences, learn how to deal the difficult situations, and provide each other with social support.
What Is an Empty Nester Support Group?
Mrs. Smith feared this day would come; it was just a matter of time before her son would also leave the house. She would miss their voices calling out to her or greeting her when they came home from work, she would miss the dinner table talks and movie nights. Both her children were all grown up. She felt a mix of emotions. The house was truly going to be empty. Just like a bird’s nest is empty when its little ones fly off. Mrs. Smith is feeling a deep void and wonders if there are other people who are going through the same situation.
So, she contacts an empty nester support group in her area. As she enters the room, she sees people her age greeting her with warm smiles. The moderator of the session begins by explaining the process of the support group.
Sense of Identification
Many a time parents feel a loss of identity when their children move out. This is because sometimes parents live through the life of their child. Now that children are independent, parents don’t know what to do. Therefore, through the empty nester support group, you can regain a sense of self and focus on your own needs.
Sense of Connection
After you listen to other people who are going through the same feelings as you, you start to feel a sense of connection with them. You share your experiences which may be similar to others. Therefore, you don’t feel lonely.
A Safe Space
An empty nester support group provides a safe space for you to share all your feelings without being judged. You meet a group of caring individuals who support you through this difficult journey.
How Long to Get Over Empty Nest Syndrome?
Accepting that your child is moving out is never easy. There is no fixed time for how long it takes to get over empty nest syndrome. However, the way Mr. Smith processes this change will be different from how Mrs. Smith deals with it. Therefore, an empty nester support group will help speed the process and provide a channel for healing in a healthy manner.
Parents usually take a few months to come to terms with their child moving out. Although we consider the feeling of empty nest syndrome from the time the child moves out, parents start feeling overwhelmed even before the child leaves.
How to Get over the Feelings of Loneliness?
While each of these stages is difficult and uncomfortable, there are a few ways in which you can cope with empty nest syndrome:
It is understandable that when your children stayed with you, your focus and life revolved around them. However, now that they are not around, it would make sense to reconnect with your old friends. This is a good way to deal with the initial sadness and can be a healthy distraction. Therefore, an empty nester support group is beneficial in forming a supportive social circle.
Focus On Yourself
A good way to distract yourself from the grief is to set future goals. It will motivate you to focus on yourself and give you a healthy sense of self. You can also take up hobbies, join a fitness class or even learn a new skill. This will help you meet new people and broaden your social circle.
Reconnect with Your Partner
Just as Mrs. Smith is feeling the void of the children leaving, Mr. Smith is also feeling the same. Therefore, it is important to reconnect with your partner and discuss what you are feeling. It is the perfect time to build a strong, loving, and supportive environment at home.
Keep in Touch with Your Children
Even though your children are far away, does not mean you can’t see them. With advanced technology, you can video call them or text them whenever you like. Just because they are away from home, doesn’t mean you should not keep in touch.
Deal With Negative Emotions
Change is never easy, but that doesn’t mean it is bad. Even though it takes time to come to terms with the change, the feelings can be very uncomfortable to process. Every person who goes through the various stages of empty nest syndrome feels anxious, sad, and sometimes even depressed.
If you feel you are taking longer than usual to get over these negative feelings, we advise you to seek professional help. An Empty nester often lacks confidence when they feel helpless with change. And therefore, it is important to work on your confidence to cope with this life change. Enrolling in the “Low self-esteem” course will be the first step to help you achieve other goals you set for yourself and get over empty nest syndrome faster.