Empty Nest & Divorce – a lethal combination.
Posted by: Sue Atkins
This week I have been working with an older Mum helping her through her divorce but despite her son being 23 and her daughter 21 she has been struggling with the sadness of being a parent with strong feelings of loss around Empty Nest Syndrome as well.
We never stop being Mums really do we, regardless of our age or the age of our children ? This lovely Mum talked to me about meeting her son at Westfield to buy him a birthday present for his 23rd birthday & feeling crippling sadness at saying goodbye as he went back to his flat where he lives with his friends after a lovely afternoon together.
With permission this is what she told me:
‘The aching longing for how it used to be is crippling as you know those happy times of being fully involved & engaged in your children’s lives will never be exactly repeated with them again. As they have grown, flown and left the nest forever.
Yes of course you have new experiences, make new friends, do meaningful work but the knowing that you are completely on your own doesn’t always feel empowering, carefree & with unlimited possibilities as you go home to an empty house, cook a meal for one & turn on the TV to watch ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ or Netflix to fill a void that can’t be easily assimilated.
You meet your adult child for lunch and find you don’t share the small day to day stuff and begin looking for things to say – that is the moment of withheld tears & sadness. Of course they love you, and of course you love them but things have changed.
In time they will have families of their own and you’ll settle into a new role of Grandparent and family life will return again but in the mean time saying goodbye and walking for the train alone is another of life’s little moments of grief that divorce likes to remind you of from time to time robbing you of your equilibrium and your ability to breath.’