Empty Nest Syndrome In Retirement: Navigating Marriage Challenges Together

Empty nest syndrome in retirement

Empty Nest Syndrome In Retirement

So your children have left home, and in some instances, this can leave you feeling like a mother in mourning. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal to experience a sense of loss during this stage of life, also known as empty nest syndrome. Many parents find themselves feeling lonely and unfulfilled after their children leave home, add retirement to the mix and you could be looking at the perfect storm.

It’s important to address these feelings head-on in order to fully embrace this new phase of life.  This should be an exciting time for you, so why not make the most of it?  This is your time to shine, so let’s dive in and learn how to embrace this new-found freedom.

Understanding Empty Nest Syndrome

Picture this: after years of raising your children, providing for them, and watching them grow, it’s suddenly time for them to leave the nest. They have now become adults and are off on their own, pursuing their own lives. While this can be a proud moment for any parent, it can also trigger feelings of sadness and loss. 

Empty nest syndrome usually occurs when children leave home for college, work, or to start their own families. Parents may feel a sense of emptiness or loneliness as the house becomes quieter and their daily routines shift. The transition to this new phase of life can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that these feelings are normal and will eventually pass.

At its core, empty nest syndrome is all about adjusting to change. Parents must adapt to a new lifestyle without their children, and this can be tricky. The feelings of loss and emptiness can be overwhelming at first, but it’s important to stay positive and look forward to what the future holds.

is Empty Nest Syndrome Common?

Empty nest syndrome is a common experience for parents during this stage of life. Most individuals have spent years focused on their children, and may have even put their own dreams and desires on hold. When children leave home, it can feel like a loss of purpose or identity.

Children leaving home coupled with retirement can lead to an existential crisis, where individuals start to contemplate the meaning of their lives and what comes next. With the departure of their children, they are forced to address these questions head-on, which can be unsettling.

Despite this, it’s important to recognize that this phase of life can also be a time for growth and self-discovery. Many parents find that they have more time to pursue their passions, hobbies, and interests, now that they are no longer consumed by the demands of parenthood.

Coping Strategies

So, you’re feeling a bit lonely now that the kids have flown the coop? It’s normal to grieve the departure of your offspring and feel a sense of loss, but there are ways to cope and move forward.

Tip 1: Seek the Help of a Therapist

There’s no shame in seeking professional help to process the emotions you’re feeling. A therapist can provide a safe space to talk about your feelings and provide tools to manage them. Plus, you’ll have someone to call when you need to vent about your adult child’s latest Instagram post.

Tip 2: Join a Support Group

You’re not alone in experiencing empty nest syndrome. Many parents go through the same thing, and finding a community of people who get it can be incredibly helpful. Look for local support groups or online forums where you can connect and commiserate with other empty nesters.

Tip 3: Find New Hobbies

Now that you have some extra time, it’s the perfect opportunity to pick up a new hobby or rediscover an old one. Take a painting class, learn to play an instrument, or try your hand at woodworking. The possibilities are endless!

Tip 4: Go Back to School

Always dreamed of getting your degree? Now’s the time to do it! Pursuing education can not only keep your mind sharp, but it can also provide social opportunities and a sense of purpose. Plus, you’ll finally be able to help your grandkids with their homework.

Tip 5: Reconnect with your Partner

This is an opportunity to rediscover each other and nurture the bond that brought you together in the first place. Embrace this new phase as a chance to focus on your relationship, communicate openly, and explore shared interests, fostering a deeper sense of intimacy and companionship.

Tips for coping with empty nest syndrome

“Empty nest syndrome is just nature’s way of telling you it’s time to spread your wings and fly. And maybe get a pet.” -Unknown

Rekindling Relationships

Ah, romance! It’s easy to forget about it when you’re busy chauffeuring your kids around and worrying about their math grades. But now that the last fledgling has flown the coop, it’s time to focus on your own love nest.

From my own experience, my husband and I were able to navigate our way around the kids being gone fairly easily. What was no so easy was knowing how to be a couple again, just us without the boys.  

So from personal experience, I will say, don’t panic if the spark isn’t there right away. It’s normal to feel a bit rusty when it comes to affection after so many years of putting your kids first. But fear not! With a little effort, you’ll be back to holding hands in no time.

Communication is Key

It’s time to start those conversations you’ve been putting off. What are your partner’s interests and goals now that you have more free time? How can you support each other in reaching those dreams? Talk about your fears and worries as well, and work together to overcome them.

Start Dating Again

Remember when you used to go out to dinner or see a movie on a Friday night? Well, why not start that up again? Even if you’re on a tight budget, there are plenty of free or cheap date ideas out there. Take a walk in the park or try catching a matinee movie to avoid peak pricing.


Traveling can be a great way to reconnect with your partner while seeing new sights and having new experiences. Whether it’s a weekend road trip or a dream vacation to Europe, plan a trip that you both can get excited about.

Remember, it’s never too late to fall in love all over again.

Rekindle relationship

Wellness in Retirement

Retirement is a time to kick back, relax, and enjoy everything you’ve worked so hard for. Unfortunately, it’s also a time when feelings of loneliness and depression can creep in. To combat these negative emotions and stay active in retirement, prioritizing wellness is key!

Staying active and engaged in life can help keep those feelings of loneliness at bay. So, get moving! Whether you find fulfillment in a daily yoga practice or simply taking a long walk in the park, staying active is essential for both physical and mental health.

Eating right is important too. Sure, indulging in a little ice cream never hurt anyone (in moderation, of course!), but a healthy diet filled with fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods is vital for staying energized and feeling your best.

Finally, pick up a new hobby! Learning new things is great for mental health and can help keep your brain sharp. Whether you’ve always wanted to learn to knit or take up painting, now is the time to do it. Embrace the many opportunities life has to offer!

Moving Forward

Congratulations on reaching this new phase of life! It’s important to acknowledge the feelings of loss and sadness that may come with your children leaving home, but it’s equally important to focus on moving forward in a positive way.

Remember, it’s possible to feel fulfilled and happy even after your children have moved out. If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to seek out additional support or guidance. Here are a few resources to consider:

Support GroupConnect with other parents going through the same experience. Talking to others who understand can help relieve feelings of loneliness and isolation.
TherapistA licensed therapist can help you work through your emotions and develop coping strategies for moving forward.
VolunteeringFinding a cause you’re passionate about and volunteering your time can give you a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Remember, this is a time to explore new interests and hobbies. Don’t be afraid to try something new! Whether it’s taking a cooking class or joining a hiking group, staying engaged in life is key to maintaining a positive outlook.

“Empty nest syndrome is just another way of saying ‘Congratulations, you did your job as a parent and now it’s time to focus on yourself.’ Embrace it!”

If you’re considering a move to a senior living community or downsizing, now is the time to explore your options. Many communities offer a variety of social activities and amenities to keep you engaged and fulfilled. Alternatively, downsizing may allow you to shed some of the day-to-day responsibilities that come along with maintaining a larger house. 

Grief and Loss

Let’s face it – saying goodbye to your kids as they leave the nest can be tough. It’s normal to grieve the departure of your children and feel a sense of loss. 

It’s important to recognize and process these emotions in a healthy way. Take the time you need to grieve, but also focus on finding positive ways forward. 

Be patient with yourself. Adjusting to this new phase of life may take some time, but it’s possible to find joy and fulfillment even after your children have flown the nest.

Menopause and Aging

Just when you thought it was safe to retire, menopause and aging can throw a wrench into your plans. These two factors can exacerbate the feelings of loss and sadness that can accompany empty nest syndrome. 

First and foremost, it’s important to acknowledge that these feelings are normal and valid. You may feel a sense of loss as your children move out and begin their own lives, but it’s also okay to mourn the aging process and the changes it brings. Embrace the grief and allow yourself to process it in a healthy way.

Next, focus on finding ways to still enjoy life and find meaning in this new phase. Staying physically active and engaging in mental activities such as puzzles or reading can help combat the feelings of loneliness and depression that may arise. And don’t forget about the importance of social connections. Joining a group or club that aligns with your interests can help you find like-minded individuals to connect with.

Finally, it’s crucial to prioritize your own well-being. Make time for self-care and seek out professional help if needed. Remember, just because you’re aging doesn’t mean you have to stop living a fulfilling life. So go ahead, embrace the changes and find new ways to thrive.

Time to Explore

So, your kids have flown the coop and you’re left with an abundance of free time.  This is a prime opportunity to explore new interests and hobbies that you may not have had time for before.

Think of all the things you’ve always wanted to try, but couldn’t due to parental responsibilities. Now is the time to pursue those passions! Whether it’s painting, learning a new language, or taking up yoga, the possibilities are endless.

Don’t let this newfound freedom go to waste! Stay active and engaged in life by trying new things and challenging yourself. This phase of life is all about self-discovery and exploration, so make the most of it.

life after parenthood

Life After Parenthood

So, your kids have officially left the nest. Congratulations! Now, what? It’s time to start exploring all the opportunities life has to offer.

  • Tip 1: Take up a new hobby or skill. Always wanted to learn how to paint? Now’s the time to do it!
  • Tip 2: Travel. Take that trip you’ve always dreamed of or explore a new part of the world.
  • Tip 3: Volunteer. Give back to your community and find fulfilment in helping others.

Remember, life doesn’t end when your children leave home. It’s just the beginning of a new and exciting chapter. Embrace it and enjoy the ride!

Alone Together

Feeling a bit disconnected from your partner now that the kids have flown the nest? No judgment here, and you are definitely not alone! Many couples may experience a sense of panic because they no longer remember how to be a couple. 

Take this opportunity to reconnect and enjoy life as a couple once again. Consider planning a romantic getaway or trying a new activity together. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of effort to reignite that spark.

But don’t forget to also make time for individual pursuits and personal growth. It’s important to maintain a sense of independence while also cultivating a strong relationship with your partner.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is empty nest syndrome in retirement?

Empty nest syndrome in retirement refers to the feelings of loss and loneliness that many parents experience when their children have moved out of the family home and they have retired from work. It’s a time of transition that can be difficult to navigate.

Why do some senior adults struggle with this phase of life?

This phase of life can be challenging for a number of reasons. For many parents, their children leaving home represents the end of an era of parenthood. Retirement, in turn, marks the end of a long and fulfilling career. This can lead to a sense of sadness and loss.

How can I find support during this time?

There are a number of resources available to help you find support during this phase of life. Consider reaching out to a therapist or joining a support group for parents going through the same experience. In addition, you might find it helpful to connect with friends and family members or to participate in community activities.

What are some tips for moving forward?

It’s important to take the time to process your emotions and to find ways to stay engaged and active in life. Consider trying new hobbies or going back to school to learn new skills. In addition, focus on self-care by eating a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, and practicing relaxation techniques.

Is it normal to feel a sense of grief during this time?

Yes, it is completely normal to feel a sense of grief and loss when your children leave home and you retire from work. It’s important to remember that these feelings will pass and that there are many opportunities for joy and fulfillment in this new phase of life.

How do I know if I should seek professional help?

If you are experiencing feelings of depression or loneliness that persist for more than a few weeks, it may be helpful to speak with a therapist. Additionally, if you find that you are having trouble adjusting to this new phase of life, a therapist can help you develop coping strategies and move forward in a positive way.

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