Close this search box.

Ask Sarah: Dealing With Your Empty Nest Feelings

200212-omag-empty-nest-600x411Dear Sarah,

My youngest daughter got married and my boys are away in Yeshiva.  My house used to be bustling with activity all the time and for many years most of my energy was put into raising my children. I now find myself feeling sad and lonely. I am often in the house alone with just my husband and I.  How do I deal with this new stage in life?

Signed, Empty nesting


Dear Empty Nesting:


Each new stage in life has its own challenges and rewards. You are not alone!  I would like to address two points you bring up in your question:

  1. How to help you deal with the sadness that you feel since your daughter got married.
  2. How to help you deal with your marital relationship in this new stage in life.

You might be experiencing a sense of loss that is making you vulnerable to depression. You might find it difficult to suddenly have no children at home who need your care. You might miss being a part of your children’s daily lives, as well as their constant companionship.  These are all very valid points and certainly understandable why you are feeling sad.

Don’t be hesitant to lean on friends for support, especially the ones that have also been through empty nest syndrome themselves. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how compassionate your friends can be.

It may be helpful to keep busy on new projects at work or at home in order to help you ease the sense of loss that you are experiencing. Do nice things for yourself on a routine basis. Get a massage, go to the gym, or learn something new such as how to sell your unused items at home on eBay. Do volunteer work and get involved in a chesed organization. Helping others focuses your attention on trying to make their lives better. It will make you feel purposeful again.

When the last child leaves home, parents have a new opportunity to reconnect with each other, improve the quality of their marriage and rekindle interests for which they previously might not have had time. Unfortunately, it is also a time where marital conflicts can accelerate because some marriages have relied on children to keep them together, but once the kids are gone, parents are left to deal with each other. Some spouses relate to each other more as mothers and fathers and less as a husband and wife. Now that the children are gone, they no longer fulfill the role as mother or father but rather as a married couple, and this connection can be awkward and unfulfilling. Emotionally and physically, they may not relate to each other anymore. Unfortunately, some couples will just accept things as they are and develop different lives for themselves while still living under the same roof. Regrettably, others will opt to divorce.

If the marriage is not in serious trouble, some new adjustments might help you refocus on your marriage. This can be a time to get to know each other all over again. Couples should dedicate more time to spending time together doing fun things. A parent may have forgotten a sense of self while the children were around. Remember the fun things you used to do when you were dating or when you just got married?  See if you could retrace some of the dates you went on and go on a nostalgic journey. In my work as a private therapist, I recommend a weekly date night to focus on doing something enjoyable together in order to recreate a stronger bond that doesn’t involve the children or anyone else.  It can be as convenient as a half hour walk around the neighborhood.  The idea is to form stronger emotional connections with each other so that each of you can reach towards each other emotionally, instead of resorting to external things that is separating you as a couple.

Take advantage of the time the two of you have alone together to talk about the topics that could be a challenge to deal with, and the topics that could bring you both happiness.

What are your hopes, dreams and expectations for the future?

Talk about the sense of grief you are both feeling in dealing with the kids leaving home.

Talk about your financial concerns.

Discuss health issues including aging parents..

Where you want to live for the rest of your life? Do you want to stay where you are or do you want to relocate to live near the children?

Rekindle shared interests and find new ones that you previously did not have the time to do.

Working together, the two of you can turn the second half of your marriage journey into a delightful journey of discovery and joy.

Sarah Kahan, LMSW provides psychotherapy to individuals, couples, adolescents and their parents. She will be running a series of workshops for newly married women to strengthen their relationship. For further information please contact her at 347-764-9333 or email [email protected] . She is also the Coordinator of the Simcha Program @ OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services. All calls and emails are kept strictly confidential. Additional information is available at




Yeshiva World is excited to add a new section called “Ask Sarah” which will offer advice on a multitude of topics ranging from Teen Tension, Avoiding Conflicts, Marriage advice and more. Sarah Kahan LMSW offers workshops on many topics and is the coordinator for the Simcha program at Ohel. Readers are encouraged to submit questions for future articles. This featured column will be published bimonthly. Please submit questions for future articles in the comment box below or by emailing [email protected]






One Response

Leave a Reply

Popular Posts