Empty nest syndrome - it's real.

(236 Posts)
monkeyonthetable Fri 28-Aug-20 10:44:38

Is anyone else feeling an intense, overwhelming empty-nest dread?

I know it's stupid but am shocked by how powerful it is. I feel sick and anxious, like there's a fist clenching my chest. Both my DC are leaving home at the same time. Of course I want them to start their adult lives but some part of me just wants to hug them and never stop.

I'm fretting that ASD DS2 will be overwhelmed and lonely and that real uni life won't live up to his very precise, planned, high expectations. I'm worried that DS1 will burn the candle at both ends and collapse (he's done this before - actually fainted from hard work and lack of sleep when leading an expedition in L6.)

And concerned that DH and I will slide into evening TV and silence. We had plans to do some long haul travel as soon as they left, to push ourselves out of the empty nest too but that's been shelved due to Covid.

Has anyone had it and got over it? Is anyone else surprised by how powerful and unexpected it is? Would love to chat to people who feel the same or had it and are through it.

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paprikasausage Fri 28-Aug-20 11:18:45

Exactly how I am feeling. I am hoping that the feeling will pass quickly?

Varjakpaw Fri 28-Aug-20 11:22:22

Our nest will only be 2/3 empty but after 6 months of being together 100%, I am dreading it and not sure how to rebalance life. I have joined a gym and plan to go straight there from work every day to fill the running around to after school activity gap.

PantTwizzler Fri 28-Aug-20 11:54:14

I sympathise. Mine won’t be empty for a while yet but each departure is a big loss — while of course being happy for the DC who is off to do exciting things.

monkeyonthetable Fri 28-Aug-20 12:56:45

Thank you all for your replies. Perhaps it's more intense because they are both suddenly heading off so there's no smaller feathers to cluck around and take the edge off it. And, as @Varjakpaw says, it's even more intense after so many months of lockdown all huddled together like penguins.

I have plans to:
go away for a week with two friends
redecorate several rooms in the house
take DH away for the weekend to a town we are seriously considering moving to
continue a serious keep fit campaign
complete a big art project

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monkeyonthetable Fri 28-Aug-20 13:01:21

@PantTwizzler - how are your adult DC doing? Are they happy? Are they coping with uni during Covid?

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TheQueef Fri 28-Aug-20 13:01:44

I've only one left, last year of uni, works, girlfriend. I moved my Ddad in for lockdown hoping it would tempt him to stay but even he's gone home sad
I know I've only got a few more months at best.

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monkeyonthetable Fri 28-Aug-20 16:23:26

@TheQueef - Oh, I get it. It's so discombobulating. (Never thought I'd find an occasion to use that word. But it is.)

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Lilliput Fri 28-Aug-20 18:32:45

My dd goes to university in a couple of weeks time.
Although we don't always spend huge amounts of time together and she's really independent so out quite a bit doing her own thing it's still going to be tough.
She went to Pisa with her best friend last week for 4 days and I thought about her constantly. I had to resist messaging her lots and I think that's the bit that will be hard, not knowing what she's doing, who she's with.
It makes me sound like a control freak mother but it's not really like that.
I've still got my 15 year old ds at home but he only really appears to be fed.
There's lots online about 'getting your life back' but that's nonsense when you've got independent teens as we all do our own thing anyway.
It's the emotional ache.
And yes, I know, it's what we all want, our kids to move on, be independent and grow up.

crimsonlake Fri 28-Aug-20 18:52:05

It is a few years back for me now but I understand how you feel. For me it was made worse by the fact I was a lone parent and my 2 went off the same time, suddenly I was completely alone.
Yes, they may come home a lot as mine did and so it can be a very gradual thing which eases it. The reality is home life will never be the same again and eventually if hopefully they get jobs the visits become shorter and less.
Rightly so of course as it is the circle of life, but oh, if only I could make them small again.

Lilliput Fri 28-Aug-20 19:02:08

She won't be home much as 4.5 hours away unfortunately.
I'm on my own quite a bit as dh works evenings and weekends.
I think dd going will be good for for ds as she's like another nagging parent sometimes.

Itscoldouthere Sat 29-Aug-20 00:59:47

@monkeyonthetable both of my DS went to Uni last year leaving myself and DH rattling around in our house.
We went for a radical solution and DH accepted a job relocation to Canada.
Covid has complicated things somewhat, but we've sold the house, DH has recently returned to Canada and I will go in the next month or so, we are planning to be there for a couple of years.
It's been tricky and stressful but we needed to make a change in our life before retiring.
One downside is my youngest DS who is ASD has found the transition to Uni difficult and the year hasn't gone quite to plan, he's in the process of getting things back on track, but it's made things more difficult for me and Covid just adds into the stress of it all.

monkeyonthetable Sat 29-Aug-20 17:14:27

@Itscoldouthere - one of my DC also has ASD and I am anticipating that it will be a bit tricky, mainly because he gets very fixed ideas of how things will be and then gets so sad if they don't play out as he imagined. (Wrt friendship groups, popularity, what happens at parties or on nights out etc as well as how well he has done in tests or essays.)

What will your DC do once you are in Canada? Will they come and visit you during the holidays?

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monkeyonthetable Sat 29-Aug-20 17:16:57

@Lilliput - pretty much everything you say is how I feel. It is an emotional ache and it's not about being controlling, it's about wanting so badly for things to work out well for them - for them to be happy and safe and thrive. At home, we had some input into making that happen. When they are gone, we don't. At least ASD son is going to uni very close to home and DS1 will only be a couple of hours away.

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Lilliput Sat 29-Aug-20 18:37:38

You've hit the nail on the head there!
I've just been out for a quick walk before he went to work. We were both in tears talking about her going. I have to say we both laughed at ourselves too.
Need to get a grip!

monkeyonthetable Sat 29-Aug-20 18:57:20

I agree, we need to get a grip. I certainly do. I'm off for a week with some friends and DH and I are going to have a few weekends away to research areas we might want to move to when we downsize. I'm taking up all-day hiking again which I love and will get the chance to sort out our tip of a house, declutter it and redecorate it. Lots to keep us occupied. And DS2 will be home often, I bet. Every other week, since he's so close, for baths and laundry and home cooking and the cat. Because of his ASD, he'll need to recharge a lot, I think. But I doubt we'll see much of DS1. He is so ready to go.

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Londonmummy66 Sat 29-Aug-20 19:08:46

I'm facing this although a bi younger as both of mine will be boarding for 6th form so my nest will be empty in days time.

Current plan is to walk the LOOP possibly walking a stretch one day to learn the route and then jogging it the next when I don't need a map. I need to get fit somehow. I'm also looking forward to being able to eat the things I like that DC turn their noses up at - like vegetables, lentils etc....

InfiniteSheldon Sat 29-Aug-20 19:21:36

My empty nest grief was awful, the absolute worst time of my life it lasted 6 months or so I genuinely couldn't see a future sad I actually went to the GP it got so bad, she asked me if I'd thought about killing myself and hearing some stupid sweatshirt clad girl swinging her crossed ankles under her chair make such a crass comment really shocked me. My reply was I was hoping for a less drastic solution! Looking back I just needed a hug and some sympathy but none of my friends had reached that life stage and I'd never heard of empty nest syndrome. However now, a decade on, I'd hate it if they tried to come back grin

monkeyonthetable Sat 29-Aug-20 22:27:44

@Londonmummy66 - that's tough. But at least you know they are 'safe' in that there are houseparents and staff members responsible for looking out for their welfare. But the LOOP sounds good. And Dh and I are already discussing food DC won't touch. So many vegetables are suddenly on the menu. grin

@crimsonlake - Yes, I get that urge to see them small again. DS2 is usually up early, so I went into his room at 9am to see if he wanted any breakfast. He was fast asleep, hugging his childhood teddy bear. I called to DH and we just stood and stared at him. Took me back to when he was about 3, and both of us felt it so strongly.

@InfiniteSheldon - that GP sounds clueless. You just needed a hug and someone who understood why you felt as you did. (That's sort of what I'm angling for here - just a thread of people who say, 'I understand.') Good to know you got past it and don't want them back any more! I can't imagine that yet.

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Consideredopinion Sat 29-Aug-20 22:31:33

I'm n

Serin Thu 03-Sep-20 20:16:22

Oh God, I'm glad I'm not the only one.
DD is leaving this weekend for a nursing course. She already has a degree and has worked abroad but she has been home for over a year and I'm going to miss her friendship.
DS1 is returning to his course for 2nd year and DS2 is leaving for the first time.
I am so churned up inside.
I know they are all capable adults, and I know they wont even let covid spoil their adventures.
I just cant imagine life here without them.
DH and I might have to get another dog for company for our existing little chappie as I think he will also feel their loss.
I am really not looking forward to this winter at all.

monkeyonthetable Thu 03-Sep-20 22:54:22

@Serin - you are not alone. I am actually feeling a bit queasy, low grade, all the time now, as they are excited and counting down the days and making long lists of household goods they'll need. I know they'll be back but I will miss them so so much.

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HopeClearwater Thu 03-Sep-20 23:00:04

I’m dreading it. My husband is dead so it’s just going to be me in a couple of years.

IthinkIsawahairbrushbackthere Thu 03-Sep-20 23:06:23

I don't think it has sunk in yet. Since July two of my daughters have got married - one lives away and the other lives round the corner - and this time next week our last will be in her Uni flat and it will be the two of us home alone - for the first time in 30+ years.

I am full time carer for my mum so there are no plans for travel - abroad or UK. We already have three dogs so no chance of getting a puppy. So I have decided to do something I have wanted to do for the past fifteen years and I have enrolled with the OU to do a degree.

I very much doubt it will fill the hole left by my "baby" but it will give me something else to think about.

HappilyBarried Thu 03-Sep-20 23:07:05

Yes. I totally get it. My youngest is 20 and just going into his third year at uni, but he's been home now for almost 6 months because of COVID. Eldest has graduated now and working in another city. I am dreading my empty nest again. We keep busy but it doesn't help. It is a huge, giant, gaping abyss and I hate it. I physically ache to ruffle their hair and kiss their cheeks sad

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