Paula Shaw, grief expert talks about how adults experience the back to school blues. Particularly, parents who have just dropped off children at college or kindergarten for the first time.
Last week we talked about the back to school blues and how it can affect students who are entering a new school, or a new level of education, like transitioning from high school to college or being home with Mom, then leaving that sanctuary for pre-school. While children experience a lot of upheaval with each academic shift, adults are equally affected.
The biggest impact I think is for parents who are experiencing empty nest syndrome. Many parents right now, I are coping with the loss of a child going off to college for the first time, and this is a searing pain and mixture of emotions that I know first-hand.
When my daughter left for her freshman year of college, I was flooded with this same mixture of emotions. I was so proud of her, I was excited for her adult life to begin, part of me was a little bit ready for her to fly the nest, (teenage attitudes can wear on a mother,) but I was also impacted by the very real loss of not having her in our home with us anymore. I ached for those nights when she’d see I was stressed and she’d toss me something shaped like a microphone and put on Whitney Huston, Celine Dion or someone else we could belt to. Under the cover of her beautiful voice I would let it rip and it instantly shifted my energy to a place of joy and fun. Once she was gone, I needed this outlet more than ever, yet didn’t have the guts or the motivation to do it.
Many parents are confused about how to cope with this. It seems logical to focus on staying busy, maybe turn their old bedroom into an office, or a classier guest room. (Time to take down the Taylor Swift posters and hang some art?) But there is again an adjustment period that needs to be respected, and this is different for each individual.
Some parents prefer to leave their child's bedroom as it is during college, after all, they’ll be coming home for the holidays and summers. Others might wait a month or two and then dive into a remodel. Whatever your choice, make sure you’re respecting your feelings and your healing process. If the idea of making their space your space, makes you weep in agony. Don’t do it yet.
There is also a painful emptiness that can come once younger children are off to school for the first time. Not only is the house very quiet, (I’m not saying there aren’t some blessings,) but it signifies the ending of an era of infancy and toddlerhood, a time when Mommy is everything and your child is adorable and fun. It’s a very special time that changes once others come into the picture. Once in the world of school, your little one is impacted by the thoughts and behaviors of children, teachers and other parents. The shelter of your perfectly crafted home life becomes violated. It’s a blow when your little kindergartener questions your ideas for the first time or when they blurt out their first bad word in a moment of anger. Dear Lord! How did this happen? Unfortunately, your precious kid is in the arena of life now. Fasten your seat belt!
Okay besides buckling up what can you do to help yourself deal with your loss and avoid pouring a glass of wine with breakfast? I recommend the following:
If you have read my book, or most of my blogs, you know that I am all about the action. You have to take action if you are going to heal and shift your energy. Watching Soap Operas and day-drinking might appear to work for a day or two devoted to depression but after that believe me, it’s all down hill.
Instead, opt for dealing with the loss and find positive aspects to it. Take the class you always wanted to take, do some part-time work, develop a new hobby or start reading the classics, (this does not include Fifty Shades of Grey.)
Bottom line, there is more time for you to become the you, you always wanted to be, so be it! You’ll love yourself so much more and your joy will increase immeasurably.
I’d love to hear from some of you who have taken this leap. Tell us how you did it, what worked and what didn’t. Leave a comment here on the blog, or on our Facebook page!
Next week we look at the Back to School Blues of those no longer working in education due to retirement, graduation and a variety of other reasons.
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PAULA SHAW, CADC, DCEP is an author, Energy Psychology specialist, therapist, speaker, Reiki Master and Grief Counselor. For more than 20 years, Paula has been passionate about empowering people who are dealing with profound loss, so they can reap something truly beautiful from their pain. She also helps clients who are going through major life transitions or seeking freedom from self-destructive addictions. She has degrees in Education and Communications from Long Beach State University, as well as graduate counseling credentials from Loyola Marymount University. She is one of the founding members of the Association of Comprehensive Energy Psychology and currently serves on its board of directors. Paula is the author of Chakras, the Magnificent Seven (2002), as well as "Grief...When Will This Pain Ever End?" Finding Your Way out of the Pit of Despair After Profound Loss.
Former Blog Archive
Thank you for reading Paula's Blog. Because our site moved in June, we were unable to transfer all of our blog posts over. You can however, read the rest of them by visiting our old blog site. HERE