College Visit: One Precursor to the Empty Nest

empty nestFor some parents, the realization that their child will soon leave the nest and take off on their own hits harder than expected.

This harsh reality known as “Empty Nest Syndrome,” might strike when when your child heads out to take the SAT or when you’re with your child on a college visit.

For Natalie Caine, it happened during a college meeting at her daughter’s high school seven years ago. She got that feeling that life as she knew it was changing and would never be the same. What she felt was a sense of loss. “You start to hear a voice in your head that says “last soccer game, last band concert, last parent meeting…all those ‘lasts’ start to add up.” That very evening Natalie started a support group of seven women who met
in her living room. The support group morphed into a new career for her
as founder of Empty Nest Support Services.

According to Natalie, “One of the things you realize is that when your child goes to college, you won’t have that community you’ve been part of, you lose something you had and loved. That’s what grieving is,—a magnum of loss for the role you loved as a parent.”

Moms and even some dads flock to Natalie’s web site where they find tools and resources that help them connect as a community of “empty nesters.” “No one is immune to this,” says Natalie. “We all go through it whether you’re a stay-at-home-mom or a high-powered CEO. Everyone will feel some grieving for the role they loved. They have to know this is normal.”

Some of the services available through Empty Nest Support include workshops, group meetings, hands-on retreats, phone consults, articles and stories from the community of empty nesters. Anyone interested in starting a support group is invited to contact Natalie.

And, what does her daughter, now a graduate student, think of her mom’s business? “Way cool.” What she called “ridiculous” in the beginning is now prefaced with “OMG” in the texts she shares with her friends when her mom is featured in the news or in journals.Yep, that’s “way cool.”


According to Psychology Today, the feelings of sadness are normal at time, however, if you are experiencing empty nest syndrome, monitor your reactions and their duration. If you are feeling that your useful life has ended, or if you are crying excessively or are so sad that you don’t want to see friends or go to work, you should consider seeking professional help.