Not losing, but finding: thoughts on an empty nest…

Sooner or later people move on; it’s a fact of life. For the person moving on, it’s often a new beginning, an exciting new venture, a different place, different people to meet.  Moving on might be for work, for a change of lifestyle, for emigration, for retirement.  Currently, many mums and dads will be watching their precious young people as they start school, move school or prepare to leave home to go to university.

Letting go (especially of your children),  is such a complex subject, that a 400-500 word blog can only ever  touch on the many and diverse issues which arise from this life-changing event, and since I have experience of this myself, I’m happy to offer my personal observations on some strategies I have used and find useful for coping.  If you feel as if you’re losing something, let’s flip it, and see, instead, what you could find…

Find friends

There will be others who you can align yourself with, who will support you.  Find them, talk to them, support each other. Talk with them when you want and need to, not when you think you should.  Your network of contacts will be vital: nurture it.

Find strength

Build yourself some emotional resilience on good days.  Look for positives all around you when you are able.  The more often you do this, the more habit-forming it becomes.  Letting go is not all about loss, it’s very much about what you can find too. Search out things of beauty and absorb them: a stunning sunrise, a vivid flower, a piece of music that inspires you, a poem, a prayer, a mantra or positive affirmation.

Find health

Eat well, sleep well, exercise, meditate, pray; whatever works for you to give yourself time to feel good.  You may not feel like, or be able to do these all the time, but do them whenever you can. This will help build physical and mental resilience, to have in store when you have the not-so-good days.

Find good memories

Remember the good times, especially the laughs, the shared experiences.  Make them into a film in your head.  Run it through again and again; imagine them on a big screen, use bright, bold colours, large images and distinctive sounds.  Sit in your own “cinema”, watching and enjoying being there with everyone in the film.  This really works.

What you won’t find

An instruction manual.  How you feel  is how you feel. You may be highly emotional, you might not. You might be affected immediately, or feel nothing until some time later.  Allow yourself to just be. And be patient with yourself.  Acknowledge and accept your feelings just as they are.  Explore them, with objectivity, so you recognise them when they try to take you over.

Part of a poem by Khalil Gibran (On Children) sums it up for me:

You are the bows from which your children
As living arrows are sent forth

You can point them in the right direction, and when you let go, you watch them fly.  The next part is the bit they do by themselves, from your guidance.

Hats off, all you mums and dads.  You’ve done a good job.

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About Marianna Beckwith