The grief we don’t discuss – fly the nest dear child

I remember it well, like it was yesterday but it was eleven years ago. My oldest daughter, Bree, was moving out. She was 18 and spreading her wings. It was her last night at home. She was all packed up. She wasn’t going to university so I knew she wouldn’t be ‘back to do laundry’ or come back during school breaks. She was moving two hours away to start a new job.


Of course, I was happy for her and devastated for me. Of course, she would come and visit but things were different. Her younger sister, Alexa, was still at home. Alexa is only one year younger so I knew that time was coming. I couldn’t bear to think of that. One child at a time, please.

As the three of us sat on her bed, we laughed and shed a few tears. I was giving the speech. You know the one, “I am so proud of you! You’re going to do great! How exciting! You go live your life to the fullest and for all that is holy, be safe!” Or something to that effect.

I remember thinking, “why does no one really talk about this?” I talked to friends who had ‘been there, done that, and got that T-shirt.’ These moms had a lot of empathy for what I was going through. It was so difficult not having her in the home. I missed her laugh, her humour, her presence. Every time she would visit or I would go see her, I was like a kid before Christmas. Then when it was time to say goodbye, I would hug her, smile and say “see you later.” Then cry all the way home.

Then the dreaded next year. My baby, Alexa, was leaving for a job and to be with her boyfriend, again, living two hours away. I kept thinking, “Why do they have to move so far away, and at 18 years of age? I am a good mom, sheesh!”

I knew the answer. We were good parents and we taught our kids well. We did our job. We took these two little selfish, dependent humans, and trained them to be selfless independent women.

This was what they were supposed to do and let’s be honest, I am grateful they are healthy, alive, independent, and mature enough to hold down a job and pay their own bills. Although this was a shocker to them. Adulting can be hard. However, they were living the life they were meant to live.

We did our job well but it hurt like hell and now I was stuck in a house with a boy (husband).

As the years went on, I sit with my friends whose children had the audacity to fly the nest and oh how I remember the sadness. This transition is hard. It is loss and there is grief.

As a Life Coach and Grief Coach, you would think I would address this topic more. Frankly, I forgot the feeling. I got used to my girls living apart. It got easier saying goodbye, although it’s not my favourite thing as I absolutely love being with them. Sure, they are my daughters but they are also my friends.

Empty nest syndrome is real, especially when you speak to moms. Their hearts hurt. Their baby is moving out. The dads seem to have a different response. Sometimes I hear them cheering and saying things like, “just think of the money we are going to save” or “now we can go on holiday and only pay for the two of us.” I am sure it is not all dads but I have heard that form of excitement from many men.

If this is you and you are struggling with empty nest syndrome; I get it! I see you mama! Here are a few ideas that helped me.

  • I cried a lot! I know that doesn’t seem like a helpful tip, but trust me, let it out.
  • Talk to a friend who has had the same experience and understands your pain. Let me be clear, not every person and yes not every mom feels this way. Some are as excited as the dad. Find the ones who feel like you. They will be a great support and offer you hope. I mean, after all, they are still breathing and functioning.
  • Hold on to the hope that you will survive this transition.
  • Practice gratitude. Be grateful they are healthy, alive, independent, and doing exactly what you raised them to do – leave home.
  • Becoming self-aware is important. Asking yourself, “What do I need? What do I enjoy? How am I feeling? What resources are out there to help me through this time of loss?” After all, my guess is your focus has been on your children for the most part.

Of course, this is not an extensive list and we all know eating well, exercising, laughing, good sleep, and being surrounded by amazing friends and family will help you both physically and emotionally. So, I suggest you take action, do what is required. I promise you will survive this time, even though it is gut-wrenching, I promise you will survive it.

You got this! 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Market Harborough, LE16
Written by Holistic Life Coaching with Lisa Marie, International Certified & Accredited Life & Grief Coach- APC
Market Harborough, LE16

I am a mother of two adult daughters. I am a Certified and Accredited International Life Coach and Grief Coach and Certified Grief Educator, Key-note speaker, Podcaster, and Author.
I help clients rebuild, transform and take action to create the life they desire and deserve.

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