Monday, March 9, 2015
Coping Up with Empty Nest Syndrome (ENS)
I was exchanging messages with a relative in FB recently. In our conversation, she mentioned that all her children have left the house and she misses them. I informed her she is suffering from empty nest syndrome and it is normal or another stage in one's life as we age. Here's her exact words. I am not mentioning her name for the sake of anonymity.
"I was in tears reading your blog(Thank You Lord,I Have Thoughtful Relatives). It reminds me of our situation....just me and my husband in a 4,000sq. ft. house and I have to do the cleaning. My health is not good. I miss my children, how happy and busy was our household before and now they are busy in their professions and family. My eldest who has his medical practice in San Antonio, Texas. He calls us every Sunday, the second one calls when he has a chance. His having two kids is hard and my daughter calls when she remembers. They are all in medical field so working night shifts sometimes is hard. I will have them read your blog. Thanks Nong David".
Here's my response:
I appreciate your feedback, I think your feeling is very normal at this stage of your life. You are suffering from-empty nest syndrome. Keep busy and just count your blessings. Are you still working? Keep in touch! Give my regards to the family!
Here's another conversation between myself and an expat FB friend whose son, ( 18 years old) is leaving the Philippines to visit the US and probably stay there for a year with his American grand parents
Me: I guess this is the time for the oldest one to fly away from home. FBM are you feeling the empty nest syndrome?
FBM: Definitely David. My heart ached already. But I have to let him spread his wings. He has to learn the other side of his culture. But you are spot on, I'm definitely in pain already. Big sigh...
So what is empty nest syndrome(ENS) and how one can cope up with it Here's some information from Wikipedia.
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 a young adult moving out from his or her parents' 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.
All parents are susceptible to empty nest syndrome, although some factors can create a predisposition to it. Such factors include an unstable or unsatisfactory marriage, a sense of self based primarily on identity as a parent, or difficulty accepting change in general. Full-time parents (stay-at-home mothers or fathers) may be especially vulnerable to empty nest syndrome. Adults who are also dealing with other stressful life events such as menopause, the death of a spouse, or retirement are also more likely to experience the syndrome.
Symptoms of empty nest syndrome can include depression, a sense of loss of purpose, feelings of rejection, or worry, stress, and anxiety over the child's welfare. Parents who experience empty nest syndrome often question whether or not they have prepared adequately for their child to live independently.
Many mothers, often the primary caregivers, are more likely than fathers to experience empty nest syndrome. However, research has shown that some fathers expressed feelings that they were unprepared for the emotional transition that comes with their child leaving home. Others have stated feelings of guilt over lost opportunities to be more involved in their children's lives before they left home.
One of the easiest ways for parents to cope with empty nest syndrome is to keep in contact with their children. Technological developments such as cell phones, text messaging, and the internet all allow for increased communication between parents and their children.
Parents going through empty nest syndrome can ease their stress by pursuing their own hobbies and interests in their increased spare time. Discussing their grief with each other, friends, families, or professionals may help them. Experts have advised that overwhelmed parents keep a journal, or go back to work if they were full-time parents.
Our personal experience with empty nest syndrome started when our oldest son, went to college. My wife did cry and I told her he will be back at the end of the week to do his laundry. My wife finally accepted the fact that her oldest child is growing up and let him go. This feeling of loneliness was repeated four times, since we have four children. Their first day away from home always gave us a feeling of sadness. The first one was the hardest and the last one was the easiest.
Finally if you are in the stage of your life when you children has to go to college or live by themselves, do not feel sad, It is part of the stage of life. Keep busy and try to communicate to them as often as you can. Here's a short video from UK.