Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Time Collisions of Empty Nesters

Angie here: Recently we became empty-nesters. Pretty interesting and actually the fun freedom seems addictive. The positives far out weight the negatives. Ever heard that one?

They really do. We eat, play, and travel whenever we want to. Love that! Less hassle in the house over TV, stereo, and cars. Also love that. Love the adult talk with my kids around dinner once a week.

But one thing I didn't expect? Time collision. Didn't even dawn on me. All the beloved pets we've had since our kids were little are also leaving us. Last week, we lost our third pet, Rosie. She's the one who sat beside me as I wrote, barked for kitty treats, and followed me everywhere.

Rosie, my writing pal
The sadness is I'm sure the same for anyone who loses a beloved kitty. My poor vet has watched me cry this year more than any human has ever witnessed as I stood by my horse in December, Ted E. Cat in January, and now Rosie leaps into heaven too. I truly love cats, dogs, horses and really feel they add peace, joy, and love into my life. I've always loved the enrichment a pet brings into my home. I have a hard time letting go.

It struck me that one of the hardest things in empty nesting is the empty home as our children move on and we lose our family pets about the same time. I wondered if this was a common experience with other people. The and part.

As I mentioned it to one friend and then another, it became a pattern. None of us foresaw our aging animals would coincide with the blossoming children. It hadn't crossed our minds at all. We talked about how the sense of loss after loss can add to the hurdle of settling into the new lifestyle. Right when we think we're establishing a new pattern, another pet slips away.

I think there may be some ways around it, like staggering the timing of pets through the years. But who even realizes that when you're adding a puppy or kitten to the household?

I have to say the joy of grandchildren absolutely helps overcome the sorrow of change. I think having new goals, new things to look forward to like accomplishing long held dreams is the biggest help to me. I've wanted to be a speaker and writer my entire life. With all my kiddos, it was put off until I had the freedom to throw myself into it 100%. This is the most amazing experience, the freedom to actually chase and capture my dreams. But walking into my office without my writing pal is taking some getting used to right now.

Has this happened to you?

Do you think either you or someone you know may experience a longer adjustment period to empty nesting because the household keeps changing from loss?

How might you help a friend or would you like to be helped when timing collides?


  1. Right now, Angie, all I can say is, "We'll see." All of my kids are teenagers at this point in time, and though they'll start leaving soon (pobbibly beginning next year) my life is so hectic that I can barely comprehend that kind of freedom. You've given me something to look forward to. Thanks.

  2. I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your pets. They are just like family and losing one leaves a hole.

    But, I'm glad to hear that you are really enjoying life. Good for you!

  3. Angie, I'm so sorry about your kitty. She looks just like ours. And goodness, you made me realize my cat is 11, one dog is 10 and the other is 7. My pets are aging! And my next child who will leave the nest is a sophomore.

    You know, I saw the SWEETEST great dane puppy at the cross country meet today! Now I'm wanting one more and more. :)

  4. Hi Angela:

    I’m sorry to hear about your pets.

    Because pets are innocent and provide unconditional love, their loss is often felt much more deeply than one would have expected.

    My wife and I have found the book, “Do Dogs Go To Heaven? Eternal Answers for Animal Lovers” to be very comforting. The author is M. Jean Holmes and we often give a copy to friends who have lost a pet.

    There are other losses at this time that you did not mention: one’s own parents. Besides death, you may find that caring for a disabled parent may take away the freedom you though you were going to have at this time in your life.

    I have found that you must try to live your life to the fullest -- all the days of your life. The future may be nothing like you planned. There may be no 'golden years' after all. If you now have the freedom to follow your dreams, thank the Lord and greet each day with enthusiasm and joy.


  5. I'm so glad you all stopped by today. Thanks for sharing a few minutes with me and Rosie.

    Vince, you're so right. I was actually planning on doing a few more empty nester posts. I think there's a ton of change that happens in this stage of life. I've lost my natural mother already after over 7 years of being her full legal guardian. It's very hard to see the frailty of age happen to our parents about the time our children launch into adulthood.

    For me, it's been such a poignant year. With graduating 6 children into adult life, I'm thinking we have a book right there ;-) Hmm.

    I like the book idea you shared. I'm going to have to look that one up.