An empty nest is only a lonely place when the adults left in it have no relationship.

When your children leave the nest you may experience a mix of responses. You may also have a very different response to your spouse. Sometimes you think that you are doing okay and then an emotion surprises you. I have found that even when I have been doing something pretty mundane it can trigger an unexpected emotion.

One such day was when I was doing my grocery shopping. I was shopping for the family in my usual auto-pilot mode when I discovered I had put five bread rolls instead of four into the bag. I suddenly realised that I was shopping for our daughter Beth who had just left home.

Standing in the supermarket with tears running down my face did not seem at all appropriate nor did it seem appropriate to cry about something so silly.  I realise however that grief comes part and parcel with the process of releasing our children into their destiny.

  • Grief is a natural response to loss.
    • We can feel guilty for grieving when we feel that we should be celebrating a success but the reality is that we feel loss when our loved ones move away.
  • Grieving is personal.
    • Each person has a different way in which they process grief, sometimes husbands and wives have conflicting beliefs on how to grieve, or whether to grieve at all. It is important to communicate how you feel and empathise with your spouse and how they are dealing with change.
  • There is no normal timetable for grieving.
    • Be patient with yourself and be patient with your spouse it can take some time to come to terms with radical change within the home.
  • Don’t allow your grief to become manipulative.
    • It is important that the release of our children is healthy. They must be given the freedom to make choices based on the direction their life needs to take without having to worry about our emotional health.
  • Give it to God.
    • That doesn’t mean ignoring it. Acknowledge your grief and ask God for help as you transition into this new stage of parenting.
  • Don’t let the pain of loss stop you from feeling.
    • It is important not to build walls in your relationship with your children. Joy is an open door which welcomes our children back for visits, support, counsel and friendship.

God wants to give us the “oil of joy” instead of mourning. When we praise Him for the wonderful privilege of parenting He gives us joy as we release our children to Him.