Transitioning through an empty nest is tough for parents, especially for empty nest moms. All the emotions that come with emptying the nest are magnified during the holidays.
Mom has been used to having the family together – all the children at the table, with turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings. Mom has been wondering if their 25-year-old son and 22-year-old daughter could join them. The week before Thanksgiving, Mom got an e-mail from the son saying that he is delayed from returning to the United States; the 22-year-old daughter called and said she could not get away from work during the holidays. Mom is left with just her husband to celebrate Thanksgiving with.
This kind of loss is not a small loss by any means. For mothers, family togetherness has been something they have worked for and continue to long for. My husband and I are still celebrating Thanksgiving with our two children who live in the same city, but we don’t know how long we will be able to enjoy this togetherness. I find myself coaching myself to plan a strategy to cope with the holiday blues as an empty nest mom.
1. Grieve for the loss. What you have lost is that togetherness you have known. Losing this family togetherness brings sorrow, and it’s important, and healthy, that you allow yourself to grieve.
2. Find ways to connect with your children even though you cannot sit at the same table for dinner. This could be a phone call or a few text messages.
3. Seek out individuals who do not have family and invite them to join you. There are many single people, international students, and, sometimes, married couples, who don’t have family to celebrate the holidays with and would appreciate an invitation.
4. Redefine the meaning of family. As you include others who are not your biological family in your holiday celebration, you’ll realize that family extends much farther out to the human family. It’s no longer just about you and your children.
How do you plan to celebrate the holidays this year? How might you handle the absence of your children? What are some things you can do to bring meaning to your holiday celebration?
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