Tag Archives: honesty

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Empty Nest Grief (Part II)

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This is an update to an article I wrote over a year ago about grief and the empty nest. I wrote it on the day my youngest was coming home from college for Spring Break. I hadn’t seen her since Christmas vacation. It made me think how, as the youngest of my three children, her leaving for college was the most painful. I know many of you are already anticipating your son or daughter heading off to college in the upcoming months, some for the very first time.  Maybe this article can help bring some perspective to how you may be feeling.

This week my only son left for Graduate School at Georgetown School of Medicine. It brought up all those feelings I had when I originally wrote the article. Happiness that he is finally going off to pursue his dream of being a Doctor. Excitement that he is going back to the east coast where we had so many wonderful years as a family. Sadness that I am going to miss the time we have been able to spend together walking at the beach and talking about life. But this isn’t the first time he is leaving the nest. In fact, he is off to Graduate School not his freshman year of college, and yet I find myself facing my old friend grief again.

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Life CAN CHANGE

For parents facing an empty nest, life can become a huge grieving event. It is either devastating or it is liberating. The deep sense of missing your child can be overwhelming or maybe even for some, surprising. Never thought you’d miss not having to step over the pile of dirty clothes in the hallway did you? Never thought you’d long for the laughter of high school girls gathering in your living room to watch The Bachelor on Monday nights? Just driving by the track or soccer field where you spent most of your weekends now brings you to tears. It feels like your life has been swept out from under you. Of course it is not surprising you are hurting when you have been fully integrated into your child’s life for the last 18 years. Now what are you supposed to do?  Spend time with your spouse? Take up underwater basket weaving? Take that long awaited trip to Europe?

As parents, we should look at the empty nest syndrome as an opportunity to put closure on this chapter in our life, embrace it and move forward. Face your grief. Be sad. Don’t isolate yourself but participate in life. Re-discover what you like to do. Find your identity. Remember you are not broken just sad and that is perfectly normal and healthy.

Our gut reaction may be to try to “suck it up” and pretend like everything is ok. We smile when we are asked how we are doing. “Just fine” comes out of our mouth even when we don’t feel that way. When asked about our college student we try not to tear up.  Everything is “great” we say while gritting our teeth. We may avoid going out so we don’t run into anyone who may ask about them. That would certainly bring on the tears. In reality, these responses are only hurting us. They are masking what we are really feeling.  Sadness. Pain. Loneliness.

Even worse, we pretend everything is “fine” when we talk to our college student.  Wouldn’t want to upset them. They probably don’t care anyway. Too much fun in college. We’re sure they don’t even miss us. So we call, but not too much. We text, but only occasionally. We make sure we don’t leave tearful voicemails on their cell phones. When we haven’t heard from them for a few days, we try not to panic. We plan a trip so we can go see them, then count the days until it happens. Deep down we are still sad and hurting.

It’s Hard for Our Children Too

As hard as it is for us, we forget it is also hard for our child. They too go through a sense of loss once they leave home. Home – the place they couldn’t wait leave – now becomes a place they begin to miss terribly. No more home cooked meals. No more Mom or Dad bugging them to make their beds. No hugs just because. They try to be strong. They grieve alone. Wouldn’t want to other kids to see they are homesick. Not cool. They don’t let us know because they know how sad we are already.

From a grief recovery perspective it is best for everyone to face their grief. It is ok to be sad whether you are the “empty nest” parent or the child away at college. Sharing your grief as a family brings healing. Talk about it. Know that it is ok. In fact that it is even better if you grieve together. My daughter gave me the biggest HUG when I finally saw her six weeks after she became a college freshman. Schools plan those Parent Weekends at six weeks for a reason. It’s about the time that college freshman really begin to miss their families. That HUG from my daughter told me everything I needed to know.

If you aren’t an empty nester but are a friend of one, listen and be supportive. Hand them a kleenex when you are at lunch and let those few tears roll down their cheek. Don’t try to intellectualize with them, just listen with your heart. They just need to get it out – not be fixed.

The same goes for the college student who may be also be facing a grieving event by moving away from home. As a parent, let them express how they feel. Listen and don’t try to fix them. Allow them to share their sadness. Then when you see them on Parent’s Weekend, just give them the BIGGEST HUG you can muster. That will say it all.

You will all survive this TOGETHER.

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Sending you love, comfort and peace!

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Grieving for the Living

Grief Diaries: Grieving For The Living

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Released in June 4 2016, Grief Reiki® is a proud contributor to Grief Diaries: Grieving for the Living

Losing someone we love is a heartbreak unlike any other experience, especially if they are still alive. Because loss comes in many forms, Grief Diaries: Grieving for the Living is dedicated to sharing the stories of wounds left in the aftermath of shifted or broken relationships. Why do we share our losses? Because when we swap stories, it makes us feel less alone.

When a relationship with someone we love is filled with challenges, comes to an end, or fails to fulfill our dreams, we embark on a fragile journey that tests our fears, our future, and even our own sense of self. The intensity of our emotions in the swirling aftermath can sometimes bring more questions than answers. Why is our relationship so challenging? How can love end so suddenly? Will I ever feel happy again? What do I fear? How do I survive? Offering a rich collection of intimate stories by writers who share their journey through a living loss, this book is like a portable support group. Filled with answers to poignant questions, readers facing the same challenge will discover comfort, company and hope on every page.

In Chapter One, each writer shares the story of who or what they grieved for. The writers were then presented with intimate questions pertaining to their journey, and their responses are compiled within the individual chapters. These narrations are unabridged, as every voice is unique. But no matter the age or the circumstances, the stories contained within are a treasured reminder that none of us walk this journey alone. And that is what this book is all about.

Reviews

“ANOTHER IN THE AWARD WINNING SERIES detailing the journies of the survivors of grief. These books are truly a blessing for those traveling the grief journey, not so much as a “how to” book, but as a “I’ve been there ….” experience for the reader, offering hope and light” -AMAZON REVIEWER

Grieving for the Living on Amazon

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Sending you love, comfort and peace!

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Loss of a Loved One

Grief Diaries: Loss of a Loved One

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Released in December 2015, Grief Reiki® is a proud contributor to Grief Diaries: Loss of a Loved One

Part of the Grief Diaries series dedicated to offering comfort, company and hope in the aftermath of life’s challenges and losses, Grief Diaries: Loss of a Loved One is a collection of intimate and candid narrations from different writers about losses from different angles including step-parents, uncles, best friends, cousins, grandchildren, and more. In chapter one, each writer bravely penned the moment when their familiar lives disappeared along with their loved one’s last breath. The writers were then presented with intimate questions pertaining to their loss, and their responses are compiled within the individual chapters. These narrations are unabridged, as every voice is unique. But no matter the differences, the stories contained in each Grief Diaries book is a treasured reminder that none of us walk the journey alone. Welcome to the Grief Diaries village, where grief transcends all differences and unites us in the aftermath. Welcome, bereaved friend, to company, comfort and hope.

Losing someone we love is a heartbreak unlike any other experience. Because love comes in many forms, Grief Diaries: Loss of a Loved One is dedicated to sharing the stories of losing cousins, uncles, nieces, grandchildren, best friends, partners, and more. When we swap stories, it helps us to feel less alone. This book is like your own portable support group, open 24/7. It offers an intimate collection of stories by people around the world who have all walked in your shoes. Consider this book one of your bereavement tools, and pull it out whenever you need. For no matter the age, the circumstance, or number of days since your parent passed, the stories contained within this book offer company, comfort and hope, and are a treasured reminder that none of us walk this journey alone.

Reviews

“CRITICALLY IMPORTANT . . . I want to say  what you are doing is so critically important.” -DR. BERNICE A. KING, Daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King

“STUNNING . . . Grief Diaries treats the reader to a rare combination of candor and fragility through the eyes of the bereaved. Delving into the deepest recesses of the heartbroken, the reader easily identifies with the diverse collection of stories and richly colored threads of profound love that create a stunning read full of comfort and hope.” -DR. GLORIA HORSLEY, Founder & President of Open to Hope Foundation

“A MUST READ FOR ANYONE WHO HAS LOST A LOVED ONE…Grief is such a difficult topic yet the writers in this book are so unbelievably brave to tell their individual stories. Each chapter gives the reader insight into what they were thinking and feeling during such a difficult and painful time in their lives. The stories are inspirational, heartfelt and hopeful. Every person who has grieved the loss of a loved one but feels alone needs to read these stories so they don’t feel so isolated. This is a must read for anyone who has lost anyone they have loved. Thank you Grief Diaries for bringing this difficult topic as well the others in this important anthology into our homes and hearts..” AMAZON REVIEWER

Loss of a Loved One on Amazon

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Sending you love, comfort and peace!

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