Melanie called my office, as have others last week and this, "How long will I be crying? What can I do?"
The memories still are fresh for me when I hugged my daughter goodbye at the dorm, dropped off my rental car, and then flew, alone 3000 miles to a silent house. Now I love it, but then, I hurt.
What to do?
1. You will miss your children, so go ahead and cry. Who wouldn't be crying waving goodbye to someone you have lived with and loved since birth.
2. Ask yourself during the day and evening, "What do I need today?" Give it to yourself.
You have been the giver, now turn that energy towards you. No guilt, no shoulds, no comparisons to others.
3. Let your children be. If you call more than you feel is ok or text or IM, or email, you stay too much in their head as a voice. They need to hear themselves think and feel. They too are building a new life. Let them grow taller.
4. Write your wish list. "I wish I could......Fill it in without stopping to re- read it or analyze it. Writing brings forth parts that don't always show up while thinking in the car. Read it out loud after you write. Karen shared with me on the phone session that after she wrote her wishes, she surprised herself, "I wish I could do nothing all month and be spontaneous."
5. Journal, "What might give me a healthy lifestyle now? What needs a little or a big overhaul that I can do in baby steps?"
Empty nest is a real, major life transition. Treat yourself well as you would treat a friend going through the journey.
Ask for help. Make a plan during the week to connect with others and write it on the calendar. Carry aloe Kleenex.
Your life will not be filled with months of tears. New parts of you will show up and you will feel a joy you never imagined.
For now, let yourself be.
Take good care,
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