Strange to think of an empty nest as a cause for grief. On top of that, most of us are taught to view the empty nest as an achievement. It’s a sign that all your birds have learned to fly, and you’ve done your job as a parent to help them become independent adults. Still, the grief is there all the same—and that’s natural. Grief isn’t always a response to loss. Just as often, it’s a response to change.

You may find your home unexpectedly quiet. It’s not just the kids that aren’t around, after all. No more late nights with friends gathering before they go out, or hanging out playing video games or watching movies in the basement. An empty nest can feel quite empty. While that can cause sorrow or even depression, it’s also an opportunity to fill that space with something new.

If you’re grieving over an empty nest, here are some tips to make your transition easier.

Acknowledge Your Grief

It’s important to accept and acknowledge your grief. Let it breathe so it doesn’t take up all the air in the room. How you’re feeling is natural. Grief is how we process change. You may feel short-tempered, upset, or harbor unrealistic fantasies about how often your kids may visit home.

Give these feelings some room so they can pass through you.

Change Isn’t the End

During this process, part of what you may be grieving is your identity as a parent. Remind yourself that your role as a parent is changing. It’s not coming to an end. You’re still the steady hand on the wheel, an emergency button for your kid to push when they need advice after a wrong decision. You may not be as involved in checking homework and managing deadlines, and there may be all kinds of nonsense happening now that they’re not under your roof. That’s natural. It’s their turn to write their own story.

It might also be time to pick yours back up where you left off.

Get To Know Yourself Again

Your time as a parent has undoubtedly changed you. With the constant onslaught of dinners and social calendaring, it’s likely that throughout your child’s life, you’ve lost track of who you are when you aren’t busy being a parent. This time with an empty nest is your opportunity to rediscover those parts of yourself.

Consider trying out some of the following activities:

  • Pick up an old hobby.
  • Sign up for a class at a local community college.
  • Join some online meetups or clubs.
  • Reconnect with nature by going on hikes.
  • Carve out time to get to know your spouse again.
  • Get in touch with old friends.

Who were you before your children entered the picture? What are the parts of yourself that you’ve been neglecting? Is it time to reconnect with that side of yourself or time to reinvent yourself as someone entirely new?

Time for Travel

This is a really good time to start exploring the world again. Even if your budget is tight, look around for spots you can go to for a quick weekend trip. Being out and about might help take the sting out of your newly emptied nest. This is an opportunity for you to start spoiling yourself.

Getting Support

If you’re struggling to cope with an empty nest and know that a quick trip out of town or some time with a journal isn’t going to do the trick, consider reaching out today. We can discuss how you can maximize this opportunity and find a fresh purpose. Grief is normal, but it doesn’t have to last forever. Reach out for life transition counseling or grief counseling to tackle this next chapter.