Elizabeth Winkler is all for changing the label “empty nest.” What would it feel like to call it something else, like “the freedom chapter,” or “the fewer dishes years”?
After all, many parents eventually do find solace in the grief of children leaving home. Traveling, taking up new hobbies and rediscovering their spouses are just a few ways they’re learning to thrive.
However, Winkler, a family and marriage therapist in Beverly Hills, CA, does not advocate sugarcoating the experience of children leaving home, saying that it’s an extreme life change she likens to divorce.
Kim Raduege, a 44-year-old stay-at-home military mother of two, understands that feeling of grief. When her first son, Zach, left for college in 2014, she was absolutely devastated. “I was so sick to my stomach and there was extreme physical heartache that could not be relieved,” she says.
Raduege is far from alone in her experience, and Winkler encourages patients not to resist the pain, or they’ll stay stuck. “Just know that you’ll create something new,” Winkler says.