I can hardly believe that it is twelve years ago this weekend that we waved our daughter off to University in London. All the weeks and months of planning, shopping and packing were over and the realisation that I wouldn’t be waking up to my daughter in her bedroom next door finally hit home.
Empty Nest Syndrome refers to a grief that can be felt by both parents, when a child leaves home. These feelings of grief seem to affect women more than men and can go unrecognised and sadly can lead to an over whelming depression if not addressed.
To refer to it as grief sounds rather strange but certainly the feelings that I experienced in those first few weeks were very much a feeling of bereavement and loss mixed in with all those anxieties of how she would cope, will she be safe and happy.
For many women those feelings of maybe not being needed anymore and wondering just what your role is now the kids have left totally throws you into a feeling of panic. It is only after a while do you realise that actually you will always be Mum and be needed and life can be different but also good.
About three weeks after Amanda had left I ended up at the Doctors feeling bereft and lost.The funniest thing was I saw one of the other Mum’s sat there. we got chatting and she said that she was feeling exactly the same as me and that was why she was seeing her Doctor. We laughed and both realised that actually it was completely normal to feel this way and that time would be what was needed to come to terms with this life changing situation.
I had no idea I would have felt that way. Children leaving home to go to University is such a normal thing to go through. With all the preparation for them to go off into the world we forget that we have to prepare ourselves for our “New World” as well.
When a child leaves home there is no doubt that your life changes, but the changes can also be positive ones, which you don’t seem to be able to recognise at the time.
There are many challenges initially that we face. The challenges faced by parents experiencing empty nest syndrome can include:
Establishing a new kind of relationship with your now adult child.
Becoming a couple again, after years of sharing the home with children.
Filling the void in the daily routine created by that empty chair at the meal table.
Lack of sympathy or understanding from others, who consider children moving out to be a normal, healthy event.
On the positive side there are many pluses to being “You” again. “You get full time use of your bathroom, you can sleep in, no one borrows your clothes or eats all the food in the fridge. you can see friends more often, go away for weekends and discover that you can still feel young and have fun!
Preparing yourself for this stage in your life both physically and mentally has never been more important and this is where Mindfulness can help.
Mindfulness helps you to focus on the right now. It teaches you to ignore the thoughts from the past and the future because lets face it we can’t possibly do anything about them.
It teaches you how to show yourself compassion and kindness and lets you “Check In” to how your body is feeling.It allows you to calmly acknowledge and accept your feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations.
Mindfulness is about observation without criticising yourself for feeling this way. When unhappiness or stress hover overhead, rather than taking it all personally, you learn to treat them as if they were black clouds in the sky, and to observe them with friendly curiosity as they drift past. In essence, mindfulness allows you to catch negative thought patterns before they tip you into a downward spiral. It begins the process of putting you back in control of your life.
There is nothing more empowering than that feeling of being back in control of your life. It creates a true sense of well being and happiness and a greater knowledge and understanding about who we truly are.
You really don’t have to suffer in silence and rest assured it is completely normal to feel this way but sadly for some it can lead to a deeper unhappiness and depression that needs to be addressed sooner rather than late.
For me those feelings of loss lasted probably until Amanda was home for Christmas when it suddenly dawned on me that actually we had got quite used to just the two of us again and you know what?….it was rather nice!
You will come to terms with your feelings of EmptyNest Syndrome and before long they will be back to hog the bathroom, borrow your clothes and eat you out of house and home! “What date will you be going back I hear you cry?”
For more information about Mindfulness and dates for courses please contact 01823 323206 or email firstname.lastname@example.org