8 Of The Best Ways To Overcome The Grief Of An Empty Nest

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Most parents learn how to deal with being an empty nester at some point.

After all, you love your children and can't imagine life without them. But, they grow up so fast. 

And what seems like too soon, they are ready to move away from home — for college or a new job.

You see them off at the airport and then go home with tears of love and sadness. You're are already missing them. It's hard to come home to an empty nest.

You don't have to lose yourself in the grief.

RELATED: The Sneaky Way Empty Nest Syndrome Creeps Up On You Before Your Kid Goes To College

Here are 8 ways on how to deal with being an empty nester in a loving way.

1. Put yourself first.

You're moving into a new chapter of your life. It will take time to adjust to the empty nest. So, be patient with yourself as you adjust to the new reality.

You've sacrificed a lot to raise your children. It's a time to focus on you and your spouse if you have one. 

It's also time to follow your dreams. Maybe you've always wanted to learn to play the guitar or piano.

Find ways to nurture yourself, like reading, listening to music, watching a favorite movie, enjoying good food, or staying in touch with family and friends.

2. Get grounded.

In the beginning, you're likely feeling stressed as you get used to the empty nest. Before you make any significant decisions, it will be important for you to be grounded.

Another word for "grounded" is present. Presence means you can live in the moment without getting stuck in the past or worrying about the future.

When you're present, you can access the wisdom of your three centers of intelligence:

1. Belly Centre:

Connects you with the sensations of the body.

2. Heart Center:

Filters the world through an emotional lens and encourages you to connect with others.

3. Brain Center:

Gives you access to the wisdom of the universe with a quiet mind. 

Meditation is a great way to connect with your inner wisdom. There are many ways to meditate. Find the types of meditation that work for you. 

There are many great apps to help you to find the right practice. (My favorite is called Insight Timer.)

There are many other ways to ground yourself: yoga, tai chi, dance, breath and bodywork, walking, swimming, creating art, photography, and more. 

Find music that touches your heart. Music has the gift of bringing you into the present. Music takes you to a different place while fully immersing you in the moment with no beginning and no end.

3. Pray.

Prayer can help you to anchor yourself in the moment. It's a powerful way for you to stay connected with your children.

With the help of the Spirit, you can share your love with them every day. You can pray for their safety, that they will make wise choices, that they will seek help when needed, and finally, to know that they're loved.

You can seek guidance to help you to know what the divine calls on you to be doing.         

Even more so, the Spirit will show you the best ways you can keep supporting and encouraging your children into the future.

4. Express your grief.

You're most likely grieving because your beloved children have left home. At first, it's not easy to face an empty nest. Gradually, over time, you will get used to your new way of life.

Give yourself space to grieve. Do whatever it takes to release the pain and sadness through some creative expression such as painting, drawing, prose, poetry, pottery, and more.  

RELATED: 5 Steps To Overcoming The Very Scary Thought Of An Empty Nest

5. Stay active in your faith.

Continue to stay active in your church, synagogue, mosque, or temple if you are part of a faith community. If you're working in a community organization, you might want to get more involved if it feels right for you.

It might feel strange at the beginning without your children present, but you will get used to it over time.

Just because your children left does not mean you have to stop volunteering at the schools.

If you want a close connection with children, you might want to become a Big Sister or Big Brother. Many children need a loving, supportive relationship with an adult.

6. Acknowledge the change.

It's best to change your home to acknowledge you're entering a new chapter in your life. It doesn't have to be significant. 

You might use one of your children's bedrooms and turn it into a guest room or den. Think of what will help you to adjust to the empty nest.

Maybe you can purchase a new painting or photo to hang in one of your rooms to acknowledge the change. Maybe you had a family portrait taken just before your children left and this can be the new photo you hang.

You can re-arrange the furniture to mark this occasion. See this as an opportunity to re-focus on what's vital for you.

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Now that your children have left, this is your time now! Make the best of this and enjoy the new adventures that come your way.

7. Create a bucket list.

What do you want to do before you die? Brainstorm on a piece of paper what experiences you would like to have. 

Maybe you want to:

Travel

Jump out of a plane

Water ski

Join a choir

Skinnydip

Then, choose the adventures you want to experience and decide where you want to start. Every year, make sure to make one of them happen.  

Evaluate your bucket list every year and determine if you're going to make any changes.

Make the best of your life. You are worth it!

8. Practice radical gratitude.

It's easy to take so much for granted. Have you had a power outage recently and were reminded how much you appreciate having electricity? 

You might like to create a gratitude journal. Set a time each day to write down what you are thankful for in your everyday life. It can be anything such a food, friends, pets, flush toilets, and traffic lights.

You will be reminded that you still have much to be thankful for despite the new experience of the empty nest.

The more you appreciate all the things you have, the more joy you will feel. It's hard to be grumpy and angry when you are feeling thankful.

You will rekindle passions for experiences you used to love and did not have time for with new experiences that will bring joy that you never dreamt was possible.

RELATED: What Nobody Ever Tells You About Being A Parent To Grown-Up Kids

Roland Legge is a Certified Identity Life Coach and a minister in the United Church of Canada in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. To learn more, you can sign up for your 30 Minute Discovery Call at no charge to you and  you can also join his private Facebook group called "Discover Your Identity."

This article was originally published at REL Consultants . Reprinted with permission from the author.