Dealing With An Empty Nest

Dear Sara,

I have been a single parent for ten years since my husband passed away. I have worked hard to see that my three boys have had everything they needed. The oldest is twenty-two and has taken a job in another state. The middle boy got a scholarship to college, in-state but another town. The youngest is a senior this year and hasn’t decided what to do. I feel like they are abandoning me. I don’t know how to live my life without them to take care of. I don’t feel like I have done my job but that I am losing my family. How can I cope with all of this?

Dear Gloria,

You have taken care of everyone else for ten years or more. Surely there were times when you wished for a break. Have you dreamed of things you would like to do? Get involved with things that you enjoy. Do you like to dance or play cards? Maybe you need a volunteer job so that you feel useful. It’s time to make a life that you want that doesn’t include taking care of your boys. You have been a good Mom. Your boys will probably get married one day and bring your grandchildren to take care of. Until then find ways to enjoy your life without the responsibilities for now.


  1. Robin Hubbard says:

    First, I would talk to your sons about how you are feeling. Maybe they will help by calling more often or making room in their lives for you to keep in touch and some of your “motherly duties”. Another option could be finding younger people to help. Big Brothers/Big Sisters is one option. Girls club/boys clubs can always use help. Even being a scout leader. I have had single friends with no children be scout leaders. I am sure there are many daily/weekly programs for children that would love help. Church nurseries and Sunday Schools are another option. In addition, you can fulfill that need within a part or full time job. I have a job in telephone tech support which I am very good at. Helping people with their computers and our software really feeds my needs. In addition, my younger sister is living with me as well as a formerly homeless man I invited in and we have become great friends/roommates. So, I have people who need me as well as ones I get to help. And, while I never really understood why older adults around me found working with the elderly hard or depressing, I really enjoy that myself. My retired roommate loves going to a particular gas station and meet various people there as well as daily shopping trips to the store (I do not have time to do that and prefer to go once a week or 10 days).

  2. On a lighter note, when I was faced with an empty nest, I left the nest myself. I’d gotten my CDL & went over-the-road trucking with my husband. This is your time to do what You want!

  3. I totally understand went through this after 18 years of parenting dedication in single Mom Survival mode and this transition for many can be freedom but I believe for most Single Mom’s this could be a drastic change that may even feel like a divorce or death of a loved one etc.
    I decided to handle it by not hiding & holding back these emotions & allowing myself to lay in my babies empty bed to cry until I felt better. Than whatever & where ever your birds fly off to, get excited about it, buy some attire to wear that has their new college, state or job etc on it! Start to plan for the visits, holidays, summer and times ahead you can reunite with them. Last but not least let’s all pay ourselves on the back for being strong so they could fly off!

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