Empty nest syndrome is not a clinical entity, rather it is a transitional phenomenon experienced by the parents when the youngest or the last child leaves home. Parents want their children to be independent, or to get a good education. But the separation is difficult sometimes. The phenomenon is more common in women as they are the primary carers in many cases.
Who is prone to be an empty nester?
Single parents and parents who have dependent children
Full-time parents and parents of a single child
Parents who rely on parenthood for identity
Parents who are in disturbed or difficult marriages
Parents lack social support
Symptoms of empty nesters
Feeling of sadness
Loss of purposelessness and meaning in life
Sense of insecurity
Endless worry/ Guilt
Worrying about child’s wellness and safety
Increased marital tensions
If the grief, sadness, crying episodes, or depressive episodes last more than 2 weeks or any suicidal thoughts warrants help from the professionals.
How to cope up with empty nest syndrome
Maintain hobbies and social activities. Increase the meetups with friends or join some activity enhancing classes such as exercises or yoga
Plan a communication schedule with children through mediums like emails, messages, video chats, or exchanging recorded videos and phone calls
Establish new goals like running, marathon or, learning an outdoor game to keep yourself busy
Consider reemployment opportunities also
Can revive the romance depending upon the status of the marriage. Share plans to explore new interests or common interests with spouse
Plan a vacation
Acknowledge your grief and discuss plans with your spouse
Write and keep diaries
Only up-gradation of one’s identity to an adult child is needed. Therapy with a therapist is needed if daily routine activities are impacted by sadness and loneliness.
With the Boomerang generation on the rise in western culture and some developed nations, the empty nesters are expected to decrease in the upcoming days.
Reference - Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders, fifth edition, National Institute of Health, US