Parent College Coach Tip #75: It’s OK to Grieve When Your Child Leaves for College


If you’re a Shakespeare fan you know this line from Romeo and Juliet: “parting is such sweet sorrow”. It describes what every parent of a college-bound freshman (especially mom) is feeling right now. Sorrow mixed with the feeling of accomplishment and joy. Right now, the sorrow is overwhelming and most parents have begun the initial grieving process which is the stage we enter right before we drop them off at college.

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It’s OK to grieve

If you think you’re alone, you’re not. Just take a look at University Parent parent’s page on Facebook. Every feeling you are probably feeling is here in black and white. Emotions of grief, fear, anguish, confusion, and frustration abounds. There are all forms of grief and this is just as real as any of them: the loss of a child. And while it’s not the literal loss, for all intents and purposes it hurts just as much.

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Overwhelming emotions

You may find yourself crying when you are packing his clothes. You may burst into tears when you are doing her laundry for the last time. You may fall apart when you tape up boxes. The point is, this is an emotional time for a parent. Your child whom they have raised for 18 years is leaving your home to begin a journey toward independent adulthood. You’ve worked toward this day, but 18 years have flown by and now that it’s finally here you can’t help but grieve the loss of those years.

Take heart. This too shall pass. You will ride out this storm.

When Parents Weekend comes you will see how happy your child is and the grief will turn into joy and excitement. You will witness a transformation of sorts, from dependent child to independent adult. All the hard work you did will have paid off and you will see that although your child may have left home, she will never leave your heart.

In the meantime, read this article. I guarantee it will help:

Saying Goodbye to Your College Bound Teen

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Check out my guide for parents: Parents Countdown to College Crash Course

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