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Dealing with the sense of loss when my son left for his university

(97 Posts)
suzy2015 Tue 08-Sep-15 08:28:48

I am new to Mumsnet and have joined to ask other mums about dealing with the immense sense of loss I feel, after dropping off my son at his Halls in University on Saturday.
Though I am proud of the fact that he got into his chosen career(Medicine), I am finding it very difficult to cope, since I returned to our empty home on Sunday.
I work full-time and thought that I would cope better but alas, not.
My tears don't stop and my heart feels so empty. The silence in the house is deafening. The lack of the hustle bustle in the morning is driving me crazy. Everything is reminding me of him but I don't want to keep calling him or letting him see my pain. Want him to be happy and make new friends. But I feel like crying all the the time, don't feel like talking to friends or watch TV.
Am I abnormal or over-reacting?
Does any one feels the same?

mulberrybag Tue 08-Sep-15 08:33:10

Didn't want to read and run. Mine are too young for me to tell you my experience but I can only imagine how it feels. I guess keep busy, try not to worry too much and know that he's obviously a bright kid who will be able to cope far better than you think he will. Have you a support network of friends who can help to keep your mind off your hurt ? Big hugs from one mum to another

CocktailQueen Tue 08-Sep-15 08:33:23

I can completely understand, and you're not alone in feeling like this. A friend of mine is in the same boat and she cries every time her ds returns to uni. She found it very hard to adjust at first - and that's with a dh and other ds at home. Be kind to yourself.


LindyHemming Tue 08-Sep-15 08:33:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mistigri Tue 08-Sep-15 08:36:17

Are you a single parent? Is your son an only child?

If you're otherwise alone at home, your reaction is completely understandable. You've spent 18 years organising your life around the presence of someone who is suddenly absent. It is bound to leave a big gap, but you will learn to cope with it.

My 14 year old is weekly boarding this year and I'm missing her, even though I see her at weekends. I see it as preparation for her and me for her future life as an independent person but that doesn't mean I don't regret her absence.

Good luck x

DonkeyOaty Tue 08-Sep-15 08:36:35

Hi there and welcome to mumsnet

You'll feel better soon I promise; you are absolutely right to leave him be so shoulders back, chin up and plough on. Immerse self in work. Sort out that kitchen cupboard. Plan a spot of redecoration and next year's holiday.


Ragwort Tue 08-Sep-15 08:38:49

In the gentlest possible way, I would say you are over-reacting. Surely the point about bringing up our children is that we want them to be independent - you have done incredibly well to raise a child bright enough to get into university to study medicine. My DS is a bit younger than your's but the best I could hope for him is a place at an ex-polytech grin.

I am already planning how to use my time when (if hmm) DS leaves home, there is so much I want to focus on that has been 'on hold' since I became a parent.

But I appreciate we are all different, I have a very dear friend who still cries over her children who have left home - both in their 20s with professional, successful careers - and they are children who come home frequently and still take holidays with their parents.

I know it is a cliche - but it sounds as though you have never made time for yourself - find some new interests and hobbies.

Moregravyplease Tue 08-Sep-15 08:39:53

I'm also dreading DS going to University because i know I will miss him.

It's certainly not unnatural to feel both proud and very sad plus if you live alone that must be even tougher.

Your local college will be starting to run some adult education classes, how about joining something. Sometimes just having light conversation with people you don't know is easier than with close friends in times of upset.

Dawndonnaagain Tue 08-Sep-15 08:40:05

I have two that have gone to uni. It gets better, slowly, but it does.

werewolfinladderedtights Tue 08-Sep-15 08:51:10

I sympathise with you OP. I was distraught when my youngest left for Uni. I would get tearful at the most inconvenient moments, even while at work. I promise it will get easier for you. I buried myself in books and the dog suddenly had much longer walks than usual.
Perversely she graduated this year (a First with Hons.....not so stealth boast) and returned home three weeks ago and is driving me up the wall. Much as I adore her I'm really struggling to adapt to sharing my space with her again.

JaceLancs Tue 08-Sep-15 08:52:35

I too have two who went to university - only hit me when youngest went as I'm a single parent
I cried buckets, got drunk with a friend and had a very low few days
Decided I needed a project to keep me occupied so planned and carried out some decorating, this helped a lot
Gradually things improved
I was very careful not to encroach on their new lives, but stayed in touch and visited occasionally, took them out for a meal and sometimes bought a few extras shopping wise
DS in particular really appreciated this he was quite upset that his Dad only bothered to visit him once in the whole 3 years!
I got used to it eventually
They have both completed their education now, DD lives partly with me and partly with her bf - DS lives here full time
We all work, contribute financially, and sometimes spend time together, other times it's more like a house share

Shodan Tue 08-Sep-15 09:04:54

I went through this a year ago.

I dropped him off, held it together until I'd left the building- and then wept buckets. Spent the day with my DBro and DSIL, weeping on and off. Then the next couple of weeks I'd have a little cry at random times.

Now, I'm a little sad when I drop him back-but it's so nice seeing how he's growing into independent adulthood.

Please believe me when I say- it will get better. I came on here last year for the same reassurance, and they were right.

Keep busy. Send the odd text to your DS. Be kind to yourself- it is heart-wrenching.

Good luck.

Babyroobs Tue 08-Sep-15 09:05:03

YANBU. I too am dreading this in a couple of years time.

JugglingFromHereToThere Tue 08-Sep-15 09:08:30

Oh, bless you suzy
I think I'll miss my dd so much when she goes but I'm lucky and she's just started sixth form. Also have a younger ds.
I think one string to the bow of helping with this is yes to meet up with friends, get involved in projects at home
But I think you could also call your ds a little more often and tell him you're missing him, ask about how it's going and ho he's met, for a little of his news. I'm sure he could cope with this. Your feelings and life matter too.
In a couple of weeks when he's had a bit of a chance to settle in perhaps you could even go and visit or he could come home for a weekend?
Congrats to him for getting in for medicine. You must be so proud too!

It's just seems your mind and body is having a bit of a bereavement response and I think you need to connect with him just a little bit more to remind yourself that really he is still there, just starting a new chapter. It's OK to want to share it with him a bit, or at least let him read you a bit from it (to continue the analogy) smile

dingit Tue 08-Sep-15 09:09:27

Oh god. I cried after I dropped dd off at her new sixth form. I'm going to be wreck in 2 years.

WhyCantIuseTheNameIWant Tue 08-Sep-15 09:17:31

Chances are, he is missing you too.

It's a big jump, but he is not gone forever.

He will be back at Christmas with the biggest bag of laundry known to man!

Try and take up a small hobby.

Do you draw, paint, knit?

Give the house a good tidy.

Volunteer somewhere, if you have time.

Agree a time to call him for a chat every week or so. Show an interest, even if you can't help,with his homework anymore...

And send him an "SOS" parcel every month. Some non-perishable things. Pasta, cans of beans, you know what he likes.
Also, more expensive things like sticky plasters, painkillers etc that he may not buy for himself.
And a tesco/asda whatever is nearest to him gift card.

Be pleased that you have done such a good job bringing him up.

Lilymaid Tue 08-Sep-15 09:21:45

Have a look at the Empty Nest thread on the Higher Education board - you will find others feeling much the same as you as their DC leave for university over the next month.

Andrewofgg Tue 08-Sep-15 09:22:18

When I went to university - more than forty years ago - my mother was a widow and my elder sister had long moved out. She went home to an empty flat and started a three-day crying jag (of course I did not know about it until much later) then went out and booked a holiday for the following spring.

In the meantime jigsaws replaced crying; when I got home at Christmas they were all over the bloody place.

Then on the holiday she met my dear stepfather and they lived "happily ever after" or at least until she died twenty-odd years later, so there you go!

suzy2015 Tue 08-Sep-15 09:22:45

Thank you all for your kind words of support.
I am a professional myself and am married too. The problem is that my husband feels as low as me and that has surprised me.
I have friends and close family too but don't have the desire to talk.
Spoke to my mother last night and we both cried, she remembering the days when we left home!!
I have only one child, not sure if that is exasperating the problem.
Our lives, weekdays and weekends, were centred around his activities as he lead a very hectic life which included sports, music and academics.
He would go away for his DofE activities, his holidays with friends and school trips etc, but I never felt sad.
But this time I am caught by surprise! Saying good bye was hard but coming back home was harder and living without him the hardest!
His empty room, his old skateboard, his winter jacket which he does not want any more, everything is bringing tears to my eyes.
I never knew I could cry as I have never cried in front of others...ever.
Now I am at work, yet tears won't stop!!!

JugglingFromHereToThere Tue 08-Sep-15 09:29:38

Oh I do feel for you so much suzy
But though he has gone away for a bit he will be back again
There will be other chapters in the future
Meeting someone, possibly grandchildren one day
And as I said even with this chapter you are still in it you know, and he in the next chapter of your life too

Lancelottie Tue 08-Sep-15 09:35:49

Suzy, I'm panicking inwardly at mine leaving because he has a lengthy record of health problems and I'm scared of how he'll cope.

But we have to let them go.

Hellocampers Tue 08-Sep-15 09:41:05

Oh sweetheart I have 2 left now and my youngest is 16 so still have 2 at home. It's hard but you have done an amazing job as a parent.

Of course it's difficult, change always is. It will get better honestly as you will slowly get used to it.

And you do know he will be back with a shed load of washing in a few weeks don't you. Have a flowers and cake wine

ConferencePear Tue 08-Sep-15 09:42:50

I think this happens to a lot of us Suzy. We spend so much of our time helping/enabing our children to leave home that we forget that this is going to be a massive change in our lives. I was devastated when mine left home; I didn’t just miss them I missed their friends too. They do come back of course, but your life has changed almost as much as theirs has. I think we should encourage others in our position to make a plan for a new life after our children leave home because it really is a significant milestone for parents, perhaps especially mothers.

Dowser Tue 08-Sep-15 09:42:58

Aw it's horrible and it's only the start of them flitting in and out of your lives.

I love my kids to bits and I miss each and every one of them when they moved out, when I go away on holiday. When they go on holuday, It never ends.

One child moved an hour and a half away and I got to see them every two to 3 weeks . I was so excited on the journey down and on the way home I could have cried every time and kept thinking I should have wrapped him in cotton wool and brought him back with me. The time our daughter first didn't want to come to France on holiday with us. I cried for a full hour. My husband offered to take me home . Silly sod that I am.

I haven't seen my son for 5 weeks, nearly 6 and he lives a mile and a half away but he's been putting in loads of overtime , has a family. It happens.

The last ones to leave left 7 years ago when I was 56. That was worse because my grandson went too! However I had found another man and that did help to take some of the pain away and my grandson does come back to stay.
It does help to focus on new hobbies, travelling maybe making new friends . Things you never had time for when your child was at home. Remember though it will change. It's seen as a loss now and it is but hopefully in the not too distant future you will have a DIL and grandchildren and the circle will start again.

I'm just pleased that my children and grandchildren share so much of their lives with us.

We are all going out for a family holiday next week. They are having 1 week and we are having two so guess who will be feeling sad and upset on their departure day :-(

Purplepoodle Tue 08-Sep-15 09:47:57

My mum and dad became very depressed when I left home (they told me later). They helped each other through it. They both took.some holidays. Made some new friends. They started helping a couple of older people where they lived ect.

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