Facing an empty nest after divorce can test the mettle of even the most well-rounded individual. Loosely referred to as an actual syndrome, empty nests impact divorced mothers and fathers as well as married couples. If your children are about to spread their wings and take flight, prepare yourself ahead of time for the empty spaces they leave behind.
Zeroing in on the Phenomenon
A deep feeling of emptiness is the first sign of empty nest syndrome (ENS) during a mid-life divorce. Although women represent the largest volume of sufferers, men can also experience feelings of despondency when one or more children move away from home. After a divorce, these negative emotions can hit either parent particularly hard, and in some cases lead to clinical depression if left unchecked. If you're divorced and think you might have emotional issues caused by an empty nest, compare your warning signs with the checklists below.
The following emotions usually occur at the onset and throughout the phenomenon of empty nest after divorce.
- Acute sadness
- Loneliness, emptiness and feelings of loss
- Lack of identity
- Guilt or acute remorse
- Lack of self worth or value
If you suffer from one or more of these symptoms, you may be clinically depressed and should speak with your doctor immediately.
- Indefinable fatigue
- Excessive anxiety and worry
- Trouble concentrating
- Sleeping too much or hardly at all
- Marked change in appetite
- Lack of desire to participate in peer-based activities
Coping with an Empty Nest after Divorce
Now that you know the most important facts pertaining to empty nests, it's time to learn coping mechanisms to either avoid the syndrome altogether or successfully deal with the symptoms. By getting a head start on living your life as a divorcee with absentee children, you'll experience the fulfillment and peace you've earned over a lifetime of nurturing.
Buried underneath the joy parents feel as their children mature and embark on life as adults lies a hidden well of despair. Most people never see it coming and are bewildered when the first signs of angst begin to stir. As the big day approaches, many single parents experience a strong urge to spend as much time as possible with their child. Instead of resisting those urges, or writing them off as silly, indulge yourself. Without becoming a clinging vine, arrange pleasant activities with your child such as movies, shopping or dinner at a mutually favorite restaurant.
Become a People Person
Most likely, your children and their activities represented the largest portion of your social life after divorce. Reconnect with old friends, find some new friends or consider joining a support group for single parents, especially if emotional problems, loneliness or depression is an issue. If you feel ready, consider seeking out other singles and reentering the dating scene. Avoiding too much alone time helps circumvent despondency and has the added advantage of providing divorce support during times of crisis.
Rekindle Forgotten Passions
The business of bringing up kids often means single parents must place their own interests on hold. Now is the perfect time to pull out those well-loved arts and crafts, write a novel, volunteer or photograph sunsets across the country. Revisiting the activities you once loved not only keeps idle hands and minds busy but also provides a deep sense of personal enrichment.
Use the Phone
Make weekly phone conversations with your children a regular thing. Calling once a week allows you all to stay current without impinging on anyone's freedom. It's also an effective way to find a new place in the lives of your children.
It's easy to forget to take good care of yourself when you suddenly live alone. Now that you only have one person to feed you might be tempted to replace nutritious meals with fast food. Cooking classes can promote healthy eating while introducing a range of new experiences and exciting people. Similarly, joining a gym or dance class keeps muscles well-exercised and spirits refreshed.
It's Your Life
By following a few guidelines and staying in touch with your inner self, you'll probably begin to enjoy your empty nest after divorce. At long last, you have the best of everything condensed into one compact package. Get out there and savor your carefree new life.