This week my first ad on life coaching for empty nesting appears in the high school newspaper, which my daughters edited five years ago. The lessons of that time of life are still fresh for me. I want to help others as they move through the pain and loss of their kids going away to college, or moving out into the world in other ways.
In the book “Rising Strong,” Brené Brown, a shame researcher and storyteller, writes about loss, longing and feeling lost. Loss. Longing. Feeling lost. Each deserves its own period in my book; these are big concepts. Brown highlights the importance of really feeling the grief connected to transitions and how awkward and uncomfortable this experience is when we really take the time to feel it. Brown interviewed a father who was going through empty nesting: “Everything was off . . . nothing felt normal. I wasn’t sure where to park my car at our house. He had his car with him, but I still left his space open. Setting the table for dinner was strange; walking down the hall past his room felt painful—we were completely lost and at the same time happy for him ad proud of his accomplishments. We didn’t know if we should laugh or cry. We’ve done a lot of both.”
My 22-year-old daughter, Ella, recently got her first full-time job. Of course my husband and I, Proud Parents, are excited. When I posted the news on Facebook, it received almost 80 “likes” in a 24-hour period, the biggest response I’ve ever had on social media.
Youth and inspiration. Hope and possibility.
Ella seemed perplexed at my delight and the tears in my eyes when I showed her the response. She hasn’t yet even finished the paperwork, not yet set foot in the office. I explained that my friends, most of whom are in their 40s, 50s and 60s, love to see and encourage youth. To see our children and their friends succeed, make good, pursue excellence, contribute to the world.
I love June. It is the time of weddings and graduations. A time of beginnings, surprises, freshness, and strawberries. And with all those good things, there too, is loss.
|Sitting on the back patio at my father's house, during his memorial, reflecting.|
Last year at this time, I was planning a memorial for our family and the community to bid farewell to my father. It was a smallish affair, 60 people or so. The food was delicious, the wine mellow. My father would have loved to attend; he was quite a connoisseur. He, like his mother (my grandmother), loved good friends and good food, especially when they came together for special occasions.
At that ceremony, where we celebrated my father’s life, we wandered through his home and gardens, reflecting upon the good times. We built this ranch together over twelve years; there were many outside projects, ranch meetings, dinners and family meetings. We were a cohesive unit; we spent time together and we did stuff together. We all miss my father’s love for beauty, hedonistic delight, mental figurings, and his big heart and warmth. It was a loss we all knew would happen though I think one can never truly be ready.