In this guest blog I am sharing the wisdom of Grief Recovery Specialist, Russell Friedman, from The Grief Recovery Institute. I hope you find this blog helpful.
“It’s a big house. I never realized how big it was until it was empty.” Those might be mom’s thoughts as she sits alone drinking a morning coffee, contemplating her day. Her youngest child has gone away to college or has left home to wed or start a career. Mom is left with no job and a feeling of no longer being of value. While well-meaning friends might try to tell her that she should be thrilled that her job as chief, cook, and bottle washer is over, she is still left with an empty feeling that no one needs her anymore.
Others will insist that the end of her child rearing duties carries with it a variety of positive benefits. But those well-intentioned people would be missing the point. Adapting to change is the most difficult of all human endeavors. It is the reason why so many people find it difficult to carry through on new regimes, whether they relate to diet, to exercise, or to psychological reactions to new circumstances.
Faced with a major life change, most of us will revert to the ideas and beliefs we have practiced over our lifetimes. Mom is liable to isolate or to act strong; in either case covering up her feelings, and trying to be brave in the face of a complete overhaul of her routines. The third-highest cause of adult male death is retirement, but you will never see that on a death certificate. It stands to reason that the breaking of a lifelong habit of going to work, with all of its routines, could cause major distress to a person’s health and well-being.
Empty nest syndrome or grief?
Mom is no different. When a twenty-to thirty-year habit of full-time planning and activities and care giving has ended, there are bound to be emotional consequences which can often have physiological complications. There are no stats to indicate that heart attack rates skyrocket for empty nest moms, but anecdotal evidence indicates that any number of emotional and physical problems accompany the ending of active day-to-day motherhood. Lest it go unnoticed, working moms are also subject to the range of emotions that attach to empty nests. Oh, and dads too. As friends, family, co-workers, and just folks, we must remember not to dismiss or diminish the emotions about which empty nesters want and need to talk. Listen to them – listen with your heart, not your head. Hear them, don’t fix them; they’re not broken, they’re only honest.
Looking for support?
Canadian Grief Recovery Method Specialist, Tammy Adams loves to problem solve, inspire and motivate others who are ready and committed to change. Tammy has spent over 30 years in the field of education and as a Certified Life and Executive Coach Tammy teaches individuals to challenge and conquer their limiting beliefs and insecurities to create the life of their choosing. As a Grief Recovery Method Specialist Tammy understands that unresolved grief can limit an individual’s capacity for happiness and is gifted at supporting individuals through the pain and isolation cause by an emotional loss, of any kind, to a place of happiness they believed no longer existed. Tammy’s clients say, “Tammy helped me unpack the baggage and put a smile on my face in the process. It’s a rare quality for someone to fully listen without judgement but yet still steer you in the right direction.”