Dear Mom approaching the empty nest,

This month I’m talking to the Moms not the kidults i.e. adult children in their twenties.

Another school year is upon us and for many of us it is a season of transition. Life does not end when our children reach adulthood, but some days it feels that way. Our feelings are a part of what makes us human. Emotions define us as a species, and they are an amazing gift. When life is good, happiness fills every moment but when it is difficult emotions can overwhelm us.

Feelings reflect how we perceive our circumstances, creating a tension between successfully launching our children and the loss of daily interacting with them. I am happy that my children are succeeding. I am sad that they are far away. I’m thrilled they are happy, but I still miss them. How do we deal with our reactions as we age?

Symptoms of empty nest syndrome include sadness, depression, loss of purpose, and loneliness. Not clinical diagnosis, however there are common traits among those individuals in this transition in time. It gives us a reason but not an excuse to continue to live this way. I felt it deeper than I thought I would, my heart goes out to you as you are negotiating these feelings. I’m so glad this is only a temporary time for each of us.

Two of my children are now living in different states. I don’t like that they are so far away. I didn’t expect that to happen. Why would anyone want to leave our beautiful home state of Michigan? Many of my friend’s children live close by and they still don’t see them. Honestly, I don’t take it personally because they are not leaving us, they are pursuing their goals and dreams. 

But those little old ladies in the grocery store were right. My kid’s childhood did go by quickly. I blinked my eyes, and they are gone. Some days are harder than others, struggling with loneliness and even feeling abandoned. Our children are going full force into a new life. They are laying a foundation for their future. We are a small part of it but not the focal point and at times that hurts.

Transitions are emotional, making life changes uncomfortable. Raw feelings unhindered create bigger problems. We aren’t to lash out, but we certainly shouldn’t deny those negative feelings. It is important to face them because denial only pushes the pain deeper. Ignoring them created a depression in me that I could not identify. When we face it, we live Ecclesiastes 7:3 “Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us”.

Pain and sorrow often make us examine our life. Reflecting on our life leads to growth. We adjust our circumstances to relieve the pain. I can’t move closer to my children, but I can discover a robust life without them in my daily routine.

The Psalmist understood grief, writing about it repeatedly. I love that God allows these emotions to be expressed in His word. It encourages me to know that I am not the only one who felt this way. Psalm 42:5-6 “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God!    I will praise him again— my Savior and 6 my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you—even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar.” A key to the relief of our despair is worship. Praising God reminds us of who God is and He is in charge. It relieves our stress to know He is always there for us.

We need to ask ourselves the same questions posed by the Psalmist. What is the source of my downcast heart? Am I dealing with a real-life trauma or is this feeling wrapped in my self-worth? When we feel discarded, it can lead to depression. Like our Psalmist friend we need to turn to God in worship. He is not done with us!

After turning to Jesus, turn to a friend. Confide your struggle to someone you trust. Don’t hesitate to seek counseling if you continue to suffer. God provides wisdom and compassion through other people and you are not alone. Send me an email if you like to talk!

Love, Leslie

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