Is Your Nest Too Empty?

empty-nestI ran into her in the parking lot of the grocery store, I think she had been crying in the car. My… “how are you doing?” must have sounded sincere because she didn’t bother with “fine” but let me in on the anguish of her too empty nest. A pain I was familiar with.

When my first of four left for college it was the unoccupied hook on the coat rack that sent me spinning. The hook was his first stop walking in the door after school each day. When # 2 left, it was the bin of nectarines in the grocery store. One of his favorites and the sight of them broke me down.

My daughter’s leaving got me a spot on Oprah The Day I Met Oprah . By the time the hoopla died down I was feeling better.

Then the last one left. Since I was so experienced at this, I thought I would bounce back quickly.

I didn’t.

By the third week, my therapist husband gently suggested I might consider what would help. I knew right away what I needed, a ritual! I am good at rituals.

Since this was the last one out of the nest, I decided I needed a longer ritual so this is what I came up with…

Day One: Let Go

I headed to the Chicago Botanic Garden and walked and wept about everything I loved and would miss about having kids around the house. From the mundane to the monumental, I wrote it all down. Very cleansing and satisfying.

Botanic Garden

Day Two: Grab On

After a morning of work on day two, the beach was the setting to begin to daydream about all the possibilities waiting for me now. Many were often elusive these twenty-six years. I spoke them out loud as I walked and got more excited each step. As usual, all made it to the journal later.


Day Three: The Party

I invited a handful of girlfriends who already crossed the empty nest bridge to join me for an evening. I dressed in a favorite outfit and served a variety of nice treats. After a little chit-chat we gathered in my living room and I brought out a tray of lit candles.


I invited each of the women to share something they missed about having their kids at home and passed around the candle snuffer to extinguish a light with each statement. As we sat in the darkness, I then asked them to share something they enjoyed about an empty nest. We passed around a candle-lighter to relight the flames with each shared delight.

Finally, they gathered around and blessed me for my new season of life. A champagne toast ended the evening.

It worked!  OK, I did have some moments now and then but not the crippling kind. The nest was still empty but I was redecorating it.

Yeah, some came back a few times for short stretches which I enjoyed too but I was off and running and so were they.

Hope for the best,




4 Responses to “Is Your Nest Too Empty?”

  1. 1 Shannon Popkin September 15, 2016 at 2:50 PM

    Hi Tish. This was really sweet. I want to do you candle ritual someday, because I’m sure I’ll be crying buckets and will need to gather the support of friends. At the moment, I’m just grieving the college transition of our oldest daughter. I miss her so. Just me and the men, now (a husband and two man sized boys). Thanks for your encouragement here.

    By the way, I’m looking forward to your book! I LOVE the cover. Wow, is that beautiful. I saw it for the first time yesterday, when I got my Kregel catalog. Did you get that yet? If so, look right next door and you’ll see my book, being released by Kregel in January. (Is that your release date, too?)

    Nice to connect with you. God bless. 🙂

    Shannon Popkin

  2. 3 Elaine Lewis September 15, 2016 at 6:41 PM

    Tish Love love loved this 💓 We just sent our second one off to his sophomore year at USC in los Angeles which after the entire summer home for me is like starting over. I enjoy 99 percent of the time with him so very much! Our third “furry child” passed away very unexpectedly 3 weeks ago. Wow!! Talk about a too empty nest. Yep I’m case you too are trying to keep track Lost My dad in April Mom beginning of August Our doggie end of August God has been faithful in growing me closer to him but what a few months it has been. Looking forward to the retreat Elaine On Thu, Sep 15, 2016 at 2:14 PM Hope for the Best wrote:

    > Letitia Suk posted: “I ran into her in the parking lot of the grocery > store, I think she had been crying in the car. My… “how are you doing?” > must have sounded sincere because she didn’t bother with “fine” but let me > in on the anguish of her too empty nest. A pain I was fam” >

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