Empty nest syndrome refers to the grief that many parents feel when their children move out of home to college/work. It is felt especially by moms, as they are the primary caregivers in most homes. An adult child moving out of home is seen as a normal, healthy milestone; hence, the grief arising out of empty nest syndrome goes unrecognized, or in some cases, to display a show of strength and courage, the issue is not addressed. In my case, it was compounded by menopause and midlife crises.

“A mother’s job is to teach her children not to need her anymore.  The hardest part of that job is accepting success.” – Unknown

The day we dropped our son off at his dream college was the happiest after months of deliberation regarding his choice of course and college. Little did I know what was in store for me when I returned home after a couple of days! The grief and sadness that washed over me are inexplicable.

I always knew he would go away for his higher studies, as it was decided well in advance as he entered high school. I thought I had prepared myself well for it, but when the actual moment came, it was so difficult for me to accept the loneliness and the feeling of emptiness. While I should have done a happy dance and rejoiced that he had become independent, was exploring his new college, making friends, adjusting to hostel life, and was happy in his new surroundings, I was feeling miserable. Instead of celebrating his independence and new experiences, I felt a profound sense of emptiness and loneliness. I cried and cried, didn’t have any enthusiasm left for doing the daily chores, would just lie down in bed and binge watch shows without actually enjoying any of it, stopped my walks and talking to people, and didn’t feel a connection with anything or anyone. Everything I did was mechanical.

I had a very good support system in my family and friends who tried their best to give me company and cheer me up, but I found myself avoiding any interaction. The only time my face lit up was when my son called. Initially, it was every day, and after a fortnight, it became twice a week. It made me realize he was not missing home anymore, and instead of becoming happy, I became sadder.  It went on like this for 3–4 months and took a toll on my health, my relationship with my husband, other family members, friends, and colleagues, and my overall well-being. I stopped going out except for my customary walk. I did not like the person I had become!

It was during this trying period that my best friend came to visit me and eventually convinced me to see a therapist. It was the best thing that could have happened to me. Therapy helped me understand my emotional dependence on my son and taught me coping mechanisms that have since improved my quality of life. Today, as I write this article, I can proudly say I am in a happy and much better space, managing ENS with greater ease.


empty nest syndrome

Here are a few mechanisms that helped me deal with ENS

1. Accept your feelings of sadness, loneliness, grief, etc., and give yourself time to process them. It is ok to cry and breakdown in front of family, friends, and others; you don’t have to be strong all the time.

2. Have a good circle of friends and colleagues whom you can confide in and who have your back at all times.

3. Pick up a hobby if you don’t have one and pursue it.

4. Do things that bring a smile to your face.

5. Indulge in physical activity or a form of exercise outdoors and not within the four walls of your home.

6. Travel. It really relaxes you.

7. Try planning the day and sticking to your routine as much as you can.

8. See a therapist if you feel all of the above is not helping you deal with the emptiness.

9. Maintain a journal to record your feelings. Writing down your emotions can be therapeutic and give you a new perspective. 

10. Make a bucket list and start ticking off the items on that list, or at least make plans to do so.

11. Spend quality time with your spouse or partner and communicate, because they don’t understand if you are sad. You need to spell out the reason in clear words. 

12. Start reading, even if it is a few pages a day.

13. Last but not least, devote time to self-care: pamper yourself, eat healthily, and most importantly, sleep well.


“Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back, reasons to stay.”

-Dalai Lama

empty nest syndrome This write-up is by Suja Ram 

Suja Ram is a homemaker by choice. She contributes as a Moderator—Membership Approval to GurgaonMomsCommunity. Teaching is her passion, and she volunteers at an NGO in Bangalore. Her hobbies include reading, writing poetry, mandala art, listening to music, playing board games, and traveling. She loves to spend time with nature. 

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