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Divorce: A Different Kind of Empty Nest

Updated on April 8, 2013

Divorce is Difficult for Men and Women Alike

No matter who you are, divorce changes the dynamics of your life. Loneliness and emptiness after divorce affects almost everyone.
No matter who you are, divorce changes the dynamics of your life. Loneliness and emptiness after divorce affects almost everyone. | Source

Divorce Creates an Empty Nest

Coping with divorce can be a lonely, challenging experience. Empty nest syndrome, usually attributed to kids leaving home, is similar to the emptiness one feels after divorce.
Coping with divorce can be a lonely, challenging experience. Empty nest syndrome, usually attributed to kids leaving home, is similar to the emptiness one feels after divorce. | Source

The Trials of Divorce

The term, "empty nest," is usually applied to the feelings you have after your children grow up and leave home. However, even if your kids are still living at home, separating from a spouse can produce the same type of empty nest feelings. It is about the vacant place in your heart and in your home after you or your spouse leaves the home.

Learning to cope with being alone after years of being married can be a complex process. Divorce challenges our feelings of self worth at the core level, and loneliness combined with the uncertainties of starting over can all but shatter your self confidence.

Eat Healthy to Manage Stress After Divorce

This picture of a bowl of healthy fruits and vegetables reminds us that we need to counter the stress of divorce with healthy eating to give our bodies an edge in fighting stress.
This picture of a bowl of healthy fruits and vegetables reminds us that we need to counter the stress of divorce with healthy eating to give our bodies an edge in fighting stress. | Source

Take Care of Your Health

The stress of divorce can tax your system and drain your body's ability to ward off colds and flu. Even though you are feeling low, be sure to make healthy choices in food. Remember to eat regularly and get exercise. Breathe deeply to infuse your system with oxygen. Exercise helps to relieve stress, and improves brain function. By eating right and getting exercise, you are doing something positive to counterbalance all of the recent negativity. Think about joining an exercise class, or look for a walking group in your community. This will get you out of the house and you will meet new people. You will also feel better about yourself as you tone and tighten your muscles.

After Your Divorce Affirm Your Self-Worth

Remember that you are worthy. One of the most difficult situations to face after a divorce is coming in contact with friends and family members on your spouse's side of the equation. When you do have contact with them, hold your head up and smile. You may feel like hiding, but facing them shows that you value yourself and that any negative opinions they may have are meaningless. Just acknowledge them and move on. Represent yourself well with a quiet confidence that shows you are comfortable with the process of moving on. As you go about your day, take care of your responsibilities as needed with a calm, cool head. In doing this, you are affirming to yourself that you are a capable, confident person.

Let Go of the Old to Make Space for the New

Find your own unique way to let go of the bad feelings after divorce. This photo shows a woman releasing a red balloon over the ocean at sunset.
Find your own unique way to let go of the bad feelings after divorce. This photo shows a woman releasing a red balloon over the ocean at sunset. | Source

Practice Letting Go

Letting go can be painful, but it is necessary. Holding on emotionally to a relationship that has ended makes the feelings of empty nest syndrome worse. To begin the letting go process, take action to meet new people. Join a club, take a class, or find a new hobby. Getting a second job can be a very lucrative way of combating loneliness while you give yourself time to grieve the loss of the relationship. You will meet a new group of people, reduce loneliness, and earn some extra money to pay for that cruise you have always wanted to take.

What Not To Do: Spread Gossip About Your Ex

Even if he or she is the worst kind of deadbeat, telling everyone just how bad your ex-spouse is can have a bad reflection on you. Of course you will need to vent, but keep that venting to appropriate settings.

Consider going to some counseling sessions, or confide in a trusted friend. In public, out among people who are not in your inner circle, it is best to take the high road. If people ask for juicy details, have a generic response ready that curtails the gossip before it gets started. Simply explain that it was difficult but that you have moved on, and change the subject.

No Person is an Island

It can be difficult, but get out and be around people. Isolation makes the empty nest seem emptier.
It can be difficult, but get out and be around people. Isolation makes the empty nest seem emptier. | Source

Don't Let Life Pass You By

Some people who are experiencing empty nest seem to go into hibernation. Soon the feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, and loss of self worth begin to take their toll, and seclusion becomes a way of life. It is normal to spend a few days, or even a week or two crying in your potato chips after a divorce, but set a time limit. Then, make yourself get out and about, even if you have to go alone. Go to a movie. Take yourself out to dinner. Dress up and go window shopping. Walk in the park. Volunteer for extra assignments at work. Volunteer at your local hospital or favorite non profit organization.

Don't Punish Yourself

Even if you made some mistakes, it is important to forgive yourself. Circumstances of divorce vary, but it is difficult for a human being to go through something like that without making an error or two. It happens to everyone. Acknowledge the mistake, chalk it up to experience, and then pat yourself on the back for having gone through the challenge with your sanity in tact. If you are someone who came out of an abusive situation, it is even more important to forgive yourself. Instead of blaming yourself, remember that the other person owns the action that he or she took, and the behaviors they used and the choices they made. You are not responsible for their actions. Either way, spend some time pampering and nurturing yourself with good nutrition, and treat yourself well. You deserve it.

If You Experienced Domestic Abuse

If you experienced domestic abuse during your marriage and have not yet sought help to deal with the effects of that abuse, it is a good idea to reach out for support. To find support in your state and local area, call 1 800 799 7233. If this is the case, do not be ashamed. Many women as well as men have experienced domestic violence. Help is available.

Empty Nest After Divorce

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© 2013 Nancy Owens

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