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If you have a child who was married this summer, or you’ve just taken one to college, or even sent your last one out the door for his senior year, you are probably a bit of an emotional mess. The empty nest hits us in different ways at different times and often when we least expect it!

How well I remember dropping our last child, Susy, off at college and beginning the long drive home.  The week before we had left her twin sister, Libby, at another college. So not only was I sending off my last two at once, but it also was the first time the girls–who are very close–were separated.

My husband, John, thought this would be a celebration of sorts for us. All those years of daily parenting five children would be finished and now we could focus a bit more on us. So he planned an overnight stay on the drive home at a romantic lodge in the mountains.

As we pulled away from the college campus my tears started to flow. I felt like my life was over. My main job of parenting was done. What was my purpose to be now? I ached because of the sadness the girls were experiencing in being separated. It had been their idea to go to different colleges, but none of us anticipated the pain this would cause.

In the midst of my tears I tried to explain my feelings to my husband. Feelings I couldn’t even understand. I felt lonely in my misery. I felt guilty. After all it was a good thing! And I had a great husband who was trying to please me. Yet I was miserable. Needless to say our romantic getaway wasn’t very romantic!

You may not experience sadness at having just sent a child off. In fact, you may be thrilled. Everyone is different and you never know when the emotions of the empty nest will hit you.  It may not be until your last child is married. Or you may grieve when they begin high school.

This season is not neat. It’s messy. And there’s not much written about it to guide us through it.  But God does have a new plan for each of us as we approach the empty nest. And it is exciting.

Because Barbara Rainey and I couldn’t find much to help us as we navigated this season, we decided to write a book together; we needed some help ourselves!  Interviewing women across the country who were in various stages of the empty nest was a comfort to both of us. We learned so much from them.  We hope you’ll be encouraged by what we discovered.  Barbara and Susan’s Guide to the Empty Nest is available at familylife.com and other venues as well.

You Might Also Like:

:: Mixed Feelings Stirred Up by the Empty Nest (via FamilyLife Today)
:: Changing Relationships (via FamilyLife Today)
:: Overcoming the Challenges of an Empty Nest
:: Overcoming Loneliness when Your Children Leave the Nest