When your children leave home, a part of you goes with them. So it's understandable that we often feel an ache in our hearts as they turn the page on the next chapter of their lives.
If that heartache persists, don't ignore or discount the possibility that you might be suffering from empty nest syndrome. These feelings of sadness, depression and even grief are quite natural, and quite real. Women who are stay-at-home moms are particularly susceptible, as their job is dramatically altered once their children leave [source: Psychology Today].
Also keep in mind that the turmoil caused by the kids leaving often coincides, sometimes cruelly, with the onset of our own mid-life changes. That's true for both women undergoing the more obvious symptoms of menopause and men suffering from the more subtle signs of "male menopause."
Parenting is also a considerable part of our identity. Children grow up, but we never stop being parents. That's why, when the kids leave, we're sometimes left with a huge void in our lives. It's normal to feel a sense of loss, but it shouldn't be paralyzing [source: Goyer].
Telltale signs of empty nest syndrome include (but aren't limited to) depression or unrelenting sadness, excessive and uncontrollable crying, insomnia, a lack of enthusiasm for normal routines or even friends and low energy. Don't suffer in silence. Isolation can be a devastating obstacle to enjoying our second half-century. Seek counseling.
Next up, a few time-honored tips to make your empty nest more comfortable.