The Empty Nest: How to survive and stay close to your adult child

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It seems strange to liken it to a bereavement, but that's how it feels. We live in a small house, but it seems so empty now, and when I'm out at the supermarket I find myself going down the pasta aisle and reaching for the fusilli, which was always his favourite, before thinking: I'm sure things will get easier, it's still very raw at the moment and it's worse because I'm not working.

Celia Dodd

I didn't have longings for those years to go on, or to be back there: I had the children, I raised them; they're out there in the world. The big thing that I know has helped is that I'm doing a job I love — I'm the founder and director of the UK Jewish film festival — and that takes up a lot of my time and energy, and I enjoy every minute of it. It gives me an identity that is not just about being a mother, and that I'm sure has helped. We hadn't realised how much we would enjoy chatting about our own topics; because the reality of raising five children is that a great deal of your conversation revolves around them.

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And it still does, but there's more chance to have a few other issues in there as well. The other thing I love having back in my life is spontaneity: The hardest thing, the thing I miss most of all, is quite simply their friendship. I miss their input, their stories; I miss sitting down to meals together with them.


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I didn't realise, until it happened, what a major event it is when your children leave home; I'd known it would be big, but I didn't realise it would be so big. Their moving out coincided with a really serious illness, and I almost died: What you realise, when they have gone, is that so much of your life when they're children is about firefighting — you're thinking about what to make them for tea, you're thinking about what's happening at the weekend, you're wondering who's going to drive them later to where they need to be.

I had dreaded my children leaving for years — almost before they were born!


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  • In some ways I felt I had already experienced the empty nest when I was a child myself, because my three much older siblings had all left home by the time I was I not only saw how much my parents missed them, but I missed them desperately myself, and spent a lot of time longing for them to visit. Once my own children arrived it was even more impossible to imagine life without them, and as soon as I started interviewing other parents for the book I realised I was not alone.

    The Marriage Challenge Ep10 - The Empty Nest

    I often meet women with quite young children who are already worrying about the empty nest. But while it helps to be busy and have a life beyond the family, the empty nest still requires huge adjustments on many levels and in many areas of life. So I came up with the idea of writing my own guide, which I hope will help other parents navigate their way through the different stages of the empty nest.

    Parents home alone again

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