Overcoming Empty Nest Syndrome

When a loved one leaves home, stress and even depression can result...

Empty Nest Syndrome is a feeling of grief and loneliness parents or guardians may feel when their children leave home for the first time, such as to live on their own or to attend a college or university. It is not a clinical condition.

Since young adults' moving out from their families house is generally a normal and healthy event, the symptoms of empty nest syndrome often go unrecognized. This can result in depression and a loss of purpose for parents, since the departure of their children from "the nest" leads to adjustments in parents' lives. Empty nest syndrome is especially common in full-time mothers.


A parent wrote:

Do you have empty nest syndrome?   If so, how do you deal with it. My son hasn't lived with us for 2 years now and I still miss him so bad (he's going to the University of Arkansas which is about a 5 hour drive from where I live). We talk on the phone but there's nothing like having him in the next room. I cross stitch on the weekend and that keeps my mind occupied. Will I ever get over this?

Another wrote back:

I think so, yes. We raise our children to BE independent of us, to be able to take care of themselves and make wise choices. I think once you see your son spreading his wings, you will have a sense of fulfillment.

Have you and your husband continued to develop your relationship? While we as women stop being care givers (or at least the primary care givers) to our children when they reach adulthood, our relationship with our spouse should continue to grow and deepen. That can only happen by actively working on it.

Empty Nest: How do we fill the void?

If parents are married, this time can be used to focus on each other. It can be an amazing time to renew the intimacy you once shared and concentrate on your relationship. You may be a single parent or perhaps you need a transition period. Either way, there are many ways to lessen the feelings of loss when the nest is emptied.

  • Establish date nights with your spouse or spend more time with friends.
  • Host an exchange student. It can be very gratifying to know you are helping a young person into a new experience.
  • Become involved in your church youth group or a volunteer position in your community. Youth are wonderful beings, full of life,      energy, and most are willing to share it with adults who take an interest in them.
  • This is a great time to get more involved in your church. Many churches have groups of empty nesters just like you who get            together for outings, sharing commonalities, and hobby groups.
  • Travel or renew hobbies.

Empty Nest: A Personal Story

One woman reports “When my last child left home, it hit me hard. I had been a parent for most of my adult life and didn’t know what to do with myself. I missed having the sound of young voices filling the air and the activity of kids going in and out. The first year, I consented to host an exchange student from Europe. Her presence helped me make the transition. But I found I still had a void to fill. I became more satisfied when I turned to seeking my unfulfilled purpose and asked, “What does God want for my life now?” When I asked, He showed me! 

“For the first time in my life I was able to take a missions trip that I had always desired to take. It was the most wonderful, blessed experience in my life aside from having my family. As much as it filled my need to be a blessing to others, I was even more blessed by the people I met. They had so little and it showed me how much I had. There was no more time for me to feel low and lonely.” 

God provides us with an awesome sense of worth when we trust Him. He says in Isaiah 46:4 “I will be your God throughout your lifetime -- until your hair is white with age. I made you and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” The Lord is here to help us enjoy are our years, have peace, and find the perfect balance in this next stage of life.