Signs of Empty Nest Syndrome

Empty nest syndrome refers to the general feeling of grief or sadness that is felt by parents or primary caregivers when the object of their care leaves home. The syndrome arises out of the profound loss of identity and purpose that parents have when they no longer have children to care for. In the case of parents, this occurs when the last of the kids leave home to get married or go to college, leaving the parents with an ’empty nest’. The syndrome affects more women than men, because it is during this time that women also experience other events in their lives like menopause or caring for elderly parents. Men, however, are not totally immune to empty nest syndrome.


Feelings of sadness are the main symptoms of the empty nest syndrome. Some may be seen spending time in the child’s room. In severe cases, excessive crying and the not wanting to go out may also be seen. In cases like these, professional help is needed especially if the symptoms last for more than a week. Counselling as well as speaking to an Psychologist can help the parent gain back her perspective on life and assist in making the transition more ‘smooth’.

Coping with Empty Nest Syndrome

When it comes to empty nest syndrome, the best thing to do would be take advantage of the opportunities offered by the fact that you no longer have children to care for in the house. You are free to do more tasks and you have more time to socialize. There are things you can do to ease the pain of missing your kids. Scheduling regular email or call times will help. You can take up a new hobby or reconnect with friends. Another way to reduce the feelings of loneliness is to spend more time together with your spouse. A lot of couples have found that they are able to rediscover themselves after the children have flown the coop. You can also use this time to focus on career pursuits that you had to set aside in the past.

It is good to call your child twice a week when he or she is in college. This will give you a time to catch up. Experts advice that you can also email and chat especially if you tend to become too emotional during these calls. Limiting the communication is a good way of letting go little by little. The first times are always hard, both for the parent and the child. It is always important to remember that this is the most crucial time for the child to discover the world on his or her own, so this could be an emotional time for him or her as well. Try not to show him or her that you are upset during every call and do not expect your child to curtail his or her activities for you. The worst mistake would be to ask your child to come home if you are feeling the pangs of loneliness because the problem lies with you and not with the absence of your child.