Recently my last child left home.  He isn’t my youngest and he isn’t a child anymore, he’s a bright young man with his life before him.  One by one over the last  4 or 5 years all five of my children have flown the nest to make their own way in the world.  Some left in a single move, some left gradually coming home at weekends or between contracts before they made the final leap.  Some left for places not too distant and others have flown over the sea to new adventures.  All have left a gaping hole in my heart.  That sounds really strange right?  I thought so too.

With each departure I felt a grief I was not expecting and could not explain.  Although my children had reached adulthood and were moving naturally into independent lives, I was left with a deep mourning I just couldn’t understand. With the latest and final departure, I find I don’t have the distraction of others to take my focus off my pain and now have to face it head on and deal with it, but how do you do that???  I have been first and foremost “mamma” for the last 27 years and when I think of who I am, being a mother has always been my main identity.  Now that my children no longer need me in that way, I am at a loss and I must discover who I am outside of that role.

You hear phrases like “empty nesters” and people saying its hard when your kids go, but no one really tells you what it’s going to be like, what you are going to feel.  When I started feeling these feelings, I thought I was going nuts to be honest.  The emotions can be so overwhelming I find myself crying at the drop of a hat.  Sometimes I am in the supermarket and the grief just overwhelms me and I’m battling to hold back the tears or driving along the road and it suddenly hits me and I can’t see the road ahead for the tears.  I find I am getting very annoyed with myself, after all no one has died so why am I grieving as if they had???  Emotions are such strange things and our connections to others in our lives are so powerful that sometimes our reactions just don’t seem to make sense.

Only very recently have I been sharing my feelings with other women and I have been amazed to find my experience is not weird at all, in fact there are many others out there feeling just as I am, grieving a loss and not understanding it.  It seems it is something mothers especially go through in varying degrees, but it is not at all uncommon to feel such immense loss.

I’m afraid I don’t have answers as to how to overcome this, I’m in the middle of the process myself.   I am not one to normally share my feelings with others but sometimes I feel if I don’t get them out, I will drown in them.  I am bringing my struggle to the Lord daily and He has been my comfort and my strength.  I am taking it one day at a time and know in time this too shall pass as it seems it is a “normal” phase in parenthood that must be navigated. 

“I lift my eyes up to the hills,
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord
Maker of Heaven and Earth”   Psalm 121:1-2