Grief is part of everyday life, but when the kids leave home it’s a whole new ball game. Many people think that when children leave home they go off to do their own thing and grief comes with them. I think that’s totally false, there is grief in everyone’s life whether you’re an adult or a child. There’s grief at work, there’s grief at school, there’s grief in the neighborhood and yes there’s grief at home. The question is how do you deal with it.
I was talking with one of my friends who’s a licensed therapist. She told me about her clients who come in after kids leave home, and what I thought was an Urban legend. If the parents of the kids are having a good divorce and things are getting back to normal then there is nothing left to grieve for other than the sadness. This is when they come in for help and counseling.
That’s a shame, grief is inevitable in every family life. When you have two working parents, it’s no surprise that you will have two working parents as you traverse the stages of your family life. The empty nest divorce is a wake up call for every family to look deep within themselves and ask what is going on. It’s not just about the children but it’s about the whole family. There needs to be some soul searching done.
A friend of mine had a twin who used to come home from school and act like a baby all the time. It was so cute how she would cry and wail and scream and wail until someone gave her a pacifier. But it got so weird, and so I asked her why she would do that, she said it was because she felt like she was just emptying a bottle of milk. Then one day she woke up in the middle of the night crying because she had a nightmare and wanted to go to sleep. She told me that her parents had used the empty nest syndrome on her to make her feel like she was a worthless piece of garbage, but now that she was an adult with children she realized that was not true.
The empty nest syndrome can manifest itself in many ways. Some kids leave home to be able to fit in better with their friends, their new families, their new schools etc. While some kids leave home because they don’t feel they have anything else to do. Their parents may use empty nest syndrome in a more overt manner. They may sit around the house all day, playing video games, or watching TV instead of participating in the daily activities that others take part in.
In some cases people go through a stage of grief before realizing that their loved ones have experienced a loss. This grief stage is known as denial. Some people get really sad and depressed because they are unaware that they are going through this phase. Other individuals will deny any knowledge of what is happening to them and will act as if nothing is wrong. As dreadful as it is for empty nesters to experience empty nest syndrome grief, it is nothing compared to what people who have experienced a loss can go through.