Permission to Grieve When Your Children Go Away to College

When our children go away to college it is okay to grieve! I was very sad when my oldest went to college yet found little support from others.

I remember four years ago August very clearly. The focus was on my oldest daughter Carly going off to college. She was only going an hour away to Monmouth University, however, I still felt sad that she wouldn't be living home anymore. Don't get me wrong, I also felt happy, proud and excited as well but the grief was the emotion that I was feeling the strongest. I realized during that summer and fall the importance of listening to others when they share their sadness over changes in their lives. I truly needed someone to listen to me but had trouble finding people who would truly just listen. Instead, when I did share about my feelings of grief, most people were not at all supportive and even looked at me strangely and said with a judgmental tone, "Aren't you happy for her?", "Isn't her going to college a good thing?", "I couldn't wait til mine left." I walked away from most of these interactions feeling unheard, frustrated, and feeling that that there was something wrong with me.  After all there are commercials on TV showing parents pretending to be sad when the kids leave home and then jumping for joy and throwing parties. So what was wrong with me? Why couldn't I only feel happy and thrilled at this wonderful opportunity for Carly? I guess I wasn't supposed to be sad or at the very least I wasn't supposed to talk about it.

So I stopped telling others how I felt. I also vowed to become a better comforter of others when they shared with me any sadness or pain in their lives. I also wanted to teach others how to really listen to their friends, loved ones and co-workers when they shared anything emotional.  I would remind them not to try to fix it or to be so quick to offer advice. Just listen and try to understand. It isn't hard to really listen, but it is a skill that we would all benefit from practicing.  I wish that listening was taught in school. Our relationships would improve immensely.

Grief is not only due to a death or divorce, but grief can come from any type of separation, ending or change in our lives. I found myself comparing my loss to other's losses. As a grief counselor, I warn folks not to do this. I shamed myself when I thought of all of those I know who have lost a child through death and knew that this loss could not even come close. Minimizing my loss though didn't help. My grief felt like an ending. It was the beginning of the end of my experience of being the kind of mom as I had been for the past 17 years. It was the beginning of my children becoming independent and not needing me in the same way as they had before. I know that is what is supposed to happen and all about giving our children roots and wings, but knowing that didn't make if feel any better.

I loved having all of my kids home and around. I don't think that will ever change. I am one who wishes there could be a law that if family gets along then our siblings have to return to live in the same town so that cousins can live near each other. I know quite a few families in Springfield whose children are all in this town and the cousins even go to school together and grandparents are able to be very involved in thier day to day lives.  It is wonderful to see.  I can appreciate that as my younger brother lives in Illinois and we only see his family once a year. I wish that young adult children could get jobs that were close by their family and at the very least live in the same state. However I know that with today's economy that doesn't always happen. One woman told me "Today you are lucky if your kids live in the same country as you since quite a few of them get jobs in far away places." Her son works in China. I immediately thought of my first cousin who lives in Amsterdam with his family. We miss him so much.

Then I started to wonder about other parents. Weren't they sad as well?  How can we live with our children for 17, 18 or 19 years and then drop them off at college without us experiencing any feelings of grief? I came up with many ideas: Maybe some didn't really like being with their kids.  Maybe some were denying their true feelings of sadness or just pretended they were "fine".  Maybe some were truly anxious to get back to their own lives that didn't involve their children as much. Whatever it was, I wanted to find the other parents who felt like me. I was on a mission. I even ran a workshop in town four years ago called: They're Excited About Going Away to College, But What About Us?  About ten moms attended the workshop and it was great to share with each other.

Over the past four years I have spoken with many moms and dads who have shared their own grief with me about their children leaving home. Often with couples, it is one parent who expresses sadness more than the other. Some confide to me that it is their own spouse who "shamed them" about their feelings of grief, especially if the dad was grieving.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a Navy Seal dad at a Long Island AAU basketball tournament, who shared with me that of all the experiences he has had in his life, including that of a Seal, nothing was as hard as dropping his oldest daughter off to college last year and saying goodbye. He told me how he cried the whole drive back. He has five children and is already grieving about his second child who is a high school senior who will be going away next year. I felt such a sense of validation from this kind father's honest sharing. It helped me to feel better about my own feelings. Sometimes just talking to others who feel similarly to the way we feel can help enormously. We don't feel so alone and we feel a bit more "normal".

Anyway, if you are a parent who has a child going away to college and you feel sad, find people who will listen to you and show comfort. Allow yourself to feel the grief. Don't talk yourself out of how you feel. Find support on Facebook as many parents I see lately doing. "Pack lots of tissues" one mom said in a post to another who shared that they were on their way to college.

It really does get easier, although I will confess that each year she packed up and left I cried. One time Carly said, "Mom, I am a senior at college. We have been through this many times. Why do you still cry when I leave?" "I don't know", I sniffled, "I just miss you."  I guess it's love or neurosis, but that is who I am. I know I will cry when my younger ones leave the nest as well, but at least they all know how I get, so it won't be a surprise to them. Who knows maybe it makes them realize just how much they are loved. I hope so.


"Listening is a high art of loving. Ask yourself," When is the last time I really listened to my child? My parent? My brother or sister? When someone is ready to share, three magic words amplify your connection, and they are, "Tell me more." ~ Rev. Mary Manin Morrissey

Take care of yourself,


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Tonia Russell Smith August 17, 2013 at 11:47 AM
So elated to have found this site! So many others are grieving just like myself. So nice to know that I am not alone. I am a mother of 5 children with two who are living on their own. My oldest attended college right here in the town where we live, and she is now married and lives 1.25 hours from home. The second oldest dropped out of a college two hours from home, only to move back home after the first semester. He now lives with his g/f 5 minutes from our house. We dropped my third oldest child off yesterday at Georgia Southern University 4 hours from our home. This was the hardest thing ever for me to do as I was unprepared of how I would feel about him leaving home. I was very excited for him when he got the letter of acceptance, but now I feel terrible as I cannot not stop crying, yearning to just see his face this morning. Part of me wants to be selfish and ask him to attend college where his oldest sister attended right here in our home town, but I do want him to be independent and will respect his choice. I will travel to visit him as often as possible even though he is 4 hours away, lord willing that he wants to see me, and his 16 year old sister and 14 year old brother. Lord help me please why does this have to be so hard and difficult? I'm really missing one of my best friends and greatest helper and cook ever. My 14 year old son whom is very close to his brother just came out of his room and said, "what's wrong with you mom are you sick or something?" (Totally unaware of me crying since yesterday). He was at school when we dropped his brother off, and he went out with a friend skating last evening so he did not get a good look at his mom till this morning (lol). I thought that it would be best to try to keep the normalcy in the younger two children's lives yesterday when me and my husband and eldest daughter dropped him off at school. I hugged Thomas tightly and told him that I loved him very much. My prayers will be for all of us to make it through this transitional phase as best as possible.
Tracy Wellens Cole August 17, 2013 at 10:49 PM
I am so happy to find these posts. We dropped my daughter off at college today for her junior year. I cried like a baby when saying goodbye and now after we are home am so sad and unable to hold back the tears. I feel incredibly sad and thought something was wrong with me. After all, this is the third time she has left after Summer break. Shouldn't i be used to this by now? I feel like I do not know when I will ever get used to her leaving. I miss her presence in our house and can't go near her bedroom without crying. My daughter loves her school and is so happy and I am so happy for her, just so sad for me.
Arlene Cooper August 18, 2013 at 01:55 PM
I was reading Tonia Russell Smith's blog and I couldn't help but notice that not only did she post a blog right after mine(Arlene Cooper) but our sons are going to the same University!!!! Imagine if they were roommates!! What is your son's name? Mine is Eric. He is a junior but is living with 2 freshmen roommates. my email is cooper1@hvc.rr.com if you want to try to get in contact with me!!
Lisa Smith Aly August 18, 2013 at 11:57 PM
We took our son to college yesterday. He will be living 3 1/2 hours away. This is very difficult for me, and possibly compounded by the fact that I lost my oldest son in an accident while he was attending college (almost 10 years ago). I am comforted to know that there are other people who are struggling as I am. We have 3 children still at home--my grown stepson that moved back in, and 2 teenage girls. I told our youngest daughter (age 14 1/2) tonight that she is never allowed to leave home, and will always have to live here. I was kidding, but my heart wasn't. Thank you for all the comments. I am at lisa_kay777@yahoo.com.
Dawn M Bailey August 19, 2013 at 12:24 PM
I am so happy to have found this blog. I have been crying nonstop for 2 days. I have been a single mother for 16 years, sharing custody of our 2 boys with their father. The past 3 weeks my boys have been with their father for vacation and my oldest son was driven 5 hours away to college. Their father would not even wait 5 minutes for me to hug my son goodbye so I drove 5 hours to WSU, by myself, crying all the way to just get to hug him and tell him how much I love him. No one in my family would go with me, they couldn't possibly understand my grief. As much as I thought him going off to college was going to be the greatest day of his life, I wasn't prepared for him to leave. I was told for a year that he was going to stay at home and go to community college for 2 years, to be close to his brother. I wasn't ready for him to go. I know that at least he's doing doing what he wants to do, but to not even be able to spend the last couple of weeks with him has been devastating. When I arrived at his school and text him that I was there and had no clue where to go, he text back that he was busy meeting people and couldn't give me directions to his dorm. I just freaked out balling my eyes out. How could my son be so cold? I had just driven over 5 hours. I asked students on the street where his dorm was and luckily, through my tear-fogged-contact lenses, I found his dorm. I text him that I was in the parking lot of his dorm and he came down and just kept saying that this is so stupid that I would drive so far, that its just no big deal that he's away to college. We walked to the bookstore to get me contact solution, and he walked 10 ft in front of me, texting his friends like I wasnt even there. I feel that everything I have done in my life has been for him, and I couldn't even look at him. I spent less than an hour with him and drove 6 hours home sobbing all the way. I got home at midnight and tore down all his awards that I had so admired for the past 3 years. He had always told me that I was just a financial resource for him, and now I completely feel that he was telling the truth. I did everything in my life that I could do for him and I know that now I just have to let go. But it hurts so bad....My eyes are so swollen that I couldn't go to work today. If anyone has any words that could comfort me my email is dmbellandi@msn.com
Joyce E Swaim August 19, 2013 at 01:16 PM
I currently have puffy eye syndrome, as other parents of college bound children experience. My youngest daughter was a gift from God sent to a woman near 40 yrs old. We were always together. She helped me through my cancer & chemotherapy within the last 2 years. My husband of 37 yrs is here...but he doesn't react with emotions as I do. He comes from a 2 timed divorced home and suffered the brunt of the emotional impact. He say he internalizes...whatever! I cry and moan and feel like my heart is being ripped out! However, I try not to do this when my daughter is around. I want her to succeed and not feel guilty about living at college. She is in state, but just knowing she is not in her bedroom, where I can reach her in a moments notice is frightening. But I realize that God only lends these beautful hearts to us; to nurture, raise in His light. Now I have to let her shine, with what we have given her to grow upon. HARD TO DO!! I know my time may be limited here on Earth; but I am trying not to be selfish. Sometimes, it feel like the grief of lossing a loved one to a death. I know the feeling...within the last few years my Dad died and my best friend was murdered by her physician husband in a murder-suicide. I also said good-bye last week to my other best friened who moved out of state. Like the rug was pulled out from under you. But I will get through this. If anyone would lie to contact me so we can commiserate our fellings; feel free. orl1sxs@bellsouth.net
Sarah August 21, 2013 at 02:48 PM
Like others, I am so glad I found this blog. In six days we will drop off our fourth and last child at college. I am incredibly sad and there are only a couple of people with whom I can share that what I am feeling feels a lot like grief. My feelings are completely separate from how happy I am for my daughter - she worked her tail off and got into one of the best universities in the country...and it's only 50 miles from home. But, as one poster said, it may only be 50 miles but it still means that she will not sleep here every night. This chapter of life is going to be closed. I know that another one is just starting but...I really, really liked this chapter. It does not help that this last child is one of the most delightful human beings on the planet - funny, kind, and smart as a whip (and somehow unspoiled despite being adored by everyone in our family and many outside of it). It helps to know that at least a few others feel this way.
Oclinda August 22, 2013 at 05:29 PM
My oldest child (a son) leaves tomorrow a.m. I am a complete mess. I cry all the time. He is only 15 minutes away but will not be living at home and I do not know, for the first time in 18 yrs, when we will see each other again. He knows I am sad but I am actually hiding from him because I am crying so much. How on earth did 18 years go by so fast. I do not know how to do this...I love him so much and don't want to let him go.
Lights August 23, 2013 at 03:14 AM
Lights August 23, 2013 at 3:00am MY last child left home he was the one which I have been home with since he was age 3. Well he off to college and I first thought wow. I have been crying, crying , crying MY last child has been so Loving, caring, GODLY, it just goes on and on I miss our conversation, and the feeling of true love. The smiles we share are a blessing from God we just have to keep it in our hearts, and never let anyone or anybody tell me any thing different.
deborah tureck August 23, 2013 at 04:47 PM
Oh my gosh! I am so thankful to have found all of you wonderful parents who are going through the same grief that I have been feeling. I really thought I was all alone and no one was struggling with this transition in life like I was. My son (my only son) left for college yesterday and my heart is aching beyond belief. All I do is cry. I can't stop crying. I want my little boy back. I miss him so much. I can't bear to look at his now perfectly clean bedroom which feels so empty. He called me last night but I couldn't answer the phone because I didn't want him to hear me cry. I want him to be happy and not worry or feel guilty about me. He is 1 1/2 hours away from home but that does nothing to make the grief any less. The house feels like a different place now. It's like a lot of the life has been sucked out of it. My heart is aching and I don't know what I can do about it. How does time pass us by so quickly? All the wonderful memories of him growing up rips my heart out. How do I hide my sadness and the tears from him and the rest of my family? I have always been a stay at home mom and know nothing else. It's scary to lose a job that you have done for so long and you love so much. God bless you all and I hope that somehow we will find strength to get through this terribly tough time.
Lisa Schell York August 24, 2013 at 03:58 PM
I am so happy that I found this page. We leave in a few days to take my daughter to New York to attend college. All I do is cry. I am not ready for her to leave. We live in Florida and I know I won't get to see her until Christmas break. She only gets a couple days off for Thanksgiving so she will not be coming home. I hate the fact that I will not see her for her birthday in October, or for Thanksgiving, or see her every day, for that matter. I want the best for her and know that this is a fantastic opportunity for her. I have looked into renting a home to be closer to her but haven't found any thing that is big enough to fit our family, and our dog. I pray to God to give me strength to get through this. I feel so guilty because many families have lost their child and would love to be in my place. I also think of the parents that say goodbye to their son or daughter who are going in the military to fight for our country and all that they sacrifice. I wish I could go back in time. I am just not ready for her to spread her wings and fly.
Rick Baron August 24, 2013 at 08:39 PM
Somewhere along the path, I just lost sight of how fast my youngest was becoming a man. Now, that he's moved into school (yesterday), it feels like a piece of my heart is missing. As a parent, there's nothing that could make me more proud as who my son is and the person he wants to be. At the same time, it is killing me inside, like nothing I've ever felt. Real pain, real hurt, real tears, unlike anything I've experienced. It seems that the love I feel is true and deep for my son. He's an excellent person and has the opportunity to pursue a dream, discover his true identity and seek his calling. I can't wait to learn what he's become and have that true sense of joy in rediscovering this young man. I know it's time for him to soar, but, I just wish that there was one more day, one more conversation, one more opportunity to show him how much I love him. Somehow, I feel a little selfish for even thinking this way. At the same time, it feels like I've lost one of the most important people in my life.
R Consaul August 25, 2013 at 12:08 AM
We just got home after dropping our son off at college on Thursday. He got to school on Thursday and we stayed a couple of days with our 2 younger children to help make the transition a little easier. As a result we got to see our son on Friday for about an hour and then again today to say goodbye. It seemed to help to spread the separation process over a couple of days. We had a hotel room directly across the street from the campus so we could walk over to say goodbye. This was huge for the younger children (ok it helped mom and dad too) because although our son was out of sight he felt close. There were lots of tears today and my son cried too. For those parents who feel they have to hide their tears I’m not so sure they do. I think our new college students are old enough to understand and somewhat appreciate knowing just how dear they are to our hearts(they need to know they will be missed). My husband tried to keep it together but as my son searched his face trying to figure his father out my husband melted and a small tear escaped. I think my son needed to see it because he and his father can butt heads sometimes. Their hug was long and I could see the little boy who still needed his father’s support. Because we stayed a couple of days we were able to ask how his first night was and how he thought his roommate was going to work out. We got to see his face and could know for ourselves by his mannerisms if he was in a good place. Bear in mind my son had expressed how nervous he was and how he really didn’t want to leave home and his friends. I know for a lot of parents their children either don’t feel the same or don’t express it if they do. My husband told my son just before we left that if he isn’t happy this is like an experiment, life is just one experiment after another, you try different things until you find your way,. He told him if it doesn’t work out we’ll come up with a new plan. He asked him if he thought he was going to like it at the school and he looked at his father and replied “I’m home”. We knew then that he was going to be OK. My son has Apsergers and he doesn’t do well with change it stresses him out so saying he was home was huge. I’m still crying, I’ll worry about him, miss him and my life will never be the same but I really think he’s going to be ok and that’s what’s most important.
Aimee August 25, 2013 at 10:29 PM
I'm a single mom with a daughter in law school and my youngest son leaving for another state Friday. I am beyond devastated. He is my everything. Since I divorced we moved in with my elderly mom who I now help out and he is my joy and what I live for day to day. With him gone it is going to be a shocker to say the least. Taking care of him has kept me busy and having him around has kept me sane. I will try to find ways to adjust but wow I can't even tell you how hard this is.
Elizabeth Endres August 27, 2013 at 11:08 PM
It has been so good reading what others are going through because I felt so "different" until now. We just returned from dropping our son off at college which is a five hour drive away and I can't stop crying if I think about it. I am so proud of him and I know that he is going to do great things. He is ready for this next stage in his life, however, I am surprised by my grief. I have felt like this before and that was over a divorce I did not want about 24 years ago. What got me through then were caring people who listened and did not judge me. Time has to pass and time does heal. Looking back I also know that, yes, the end to something great has come, but the window is now open for growing an even better relationship with my son. It won't be the same, but it might even be better! Often we think that things just can't be better than now, but of course they can.
Marianne Johnson August 30, 2013 at 07:28 AM
My twins are leaving for college tomorrow morning. My heart is so heavy, but yet this is what we have hoped for for the last 18 years, that they would grow up. If I talked about it to anyone this week I would tear up, and just like many of you the reaction was typically that I should be happy. My sister in law gets it so at least I had someone to talk to. My husband does not get it at all--he thinks I am being silly and that I should not be feeling this way. I am glad that they are both going to school together so that at least they will have each other. This chapter in the book is hard to get through for me... and I'm sure for them..but the book is just beginning there will be many other opportunities for tears and laughter along the way.
Sonia Moore August 31, 2013 at 07:31 AM
I was pregnant when my boyfriend ended things up with me cause he was too scared to be father at least that he said and that was why he wanted to break up with me while in reality, he wanted to go be with some other girl. But I loved him too much to let him just walk out like that on me and my unborn child so i used a Return spell on him. I had Prophet Abdul cast it for me and it worked. To be frank, he is one of the last few real and reliable spell caster. Read about him on his website www.prophetofgoddess.com and see other testimonies. Contact him on spells@prophetofgoddess.com if you need to save your relationship.
Patricia Darby September 06, 2013 at 08:17 AM
Shoot down those helicopters was the advice the professors gave the Freshman class my daughter's first week of college. Well the helicopter has crashed and there are no survivors. I wander around the house dazed and weeping until the point of nausea and exhaustion. I close my eyes at night but I do not sleep. My grief has taken me prisoner. There's no way to escape it. For unlike a lot of other parents, I'm in the sandwich generation. I'm raising children and caring for my own parents. I have no way to leave and find relief from my grief. I've been a caregiver to my father now for 10 years. The end is looming closer as he is now bedridden and needs care around the clock. I get 4 hours a week respite freedom unless a family member stays here with him for me. I wouldn't have found it so hard for my oldest to leave the nest if it wasn't for the rough year we've had with each other. Needless to say without going into a really long story a lot of my illusions about my child was shattered. My trust in her was irreparably destroyed. I had raised my children to follow the Lord and Satan pried his way into her life. She is at a Christian school but doesn't communicate home unless she wants something. She is enjoying the freedom away from her family and is never in her dorm room. Most of the time she is off campus hanging around with a boy she met the third day there. She was taking a unwelcomed break from her long term boyfriend of 4 years " to please her crazy mother", so she could use this time to find out who she is and concentrate on school. Letting go and letting her make her own mistakes has been the hardest task I've ever faced. I was 38 when she was born and 40 with my son. They have been my life the past years. I've been praying for relief from my grief and also praying that she will follow the values and morals I raised her with and not be taken in by the ways of the world.
Louise September 15, 2013 at 12:03 PM
Thank you for this. I dropped my son off at college about a month ago and have been feeling sad and restless ever since. I raised him to be a strong independent person. I didn't know how much I would miss him until he said goodbye. I have had many loses in my life. His starting school has brought some of them back up. Knowing that there are others feeling as I do helps. So today I will feel sad.
Margarita Fabella September 15, 2013 at 10:21 PM
I am grateful I am not alone in this. Since I dropped her off, I was not looking for sympathizers--- after reading these posts, I knew I needed empathizers. My 18 year old daughter is miles away in NY since I live in another country. I always thought it was easier for parents who lived an hour or so away from their college child. Apparently, not. The bond of parenthood is universal. I cannot explain the pain, the emptiness that chooses no time and place. I know I have to go through this. I know the pain I feel is not one that I can explain to friends who have not experienced this kind of separation. I am thankful for all the posts--- I am not alone after all. I am trying to accept the pain, the emptiness, the uncontrollable tears as part of my love for her. I know the journey of sadness is long, I know the pain might never leave me but because this is her chosen path, I will respect that choice and go through it with her. Thank you again....
Carrie DeAngeles September 19, 2013 at 07:51 PM
I am thrilled to not be alone in this. It was about a month ago that I dropped my youngest son off at a college only an hour away. I am finding myself having these revelations ,(like that was the last football game I will ever watch him play) and it truly takes my breath away. My Dad just passed away 4 months ago, and I am feeling crushed by his loss, and this one. I am lost, heartbroken, and trying so hard to get over it. Must be too much since my usually wonderful husband has run out of patience and understanding. So, beyond working , working out, seeing my friends and praying constantly, any ideas on how to get over this. Or what is normal in terms of how long this process goes on would be appreciated.
may September 25, 2013 at 05:34 PM
It is very sad after my son graduated high school he still hasn't turned 18 yet but started college today and it makes me sad nothing seems the same the room is alone and all his stuff is mostly gone his big pillow he slept he left behind because he didn't want anyone to mess with it in college since it's in the shape of a dog he thought they might fun of him so he left it at home.I can't believe how fast time goes by and how for months we knew he would be leaving and going to the dorm and tried to do as much together as possible I talked to him and gave him more advice about life,love and studying and told him he could call me for anything and never feel alone but I feel alone.My son was everyone's wing man at him his younger brothers,his older sisters and his dad's buddy and he was my right hand man for everything I tried to be upbeat and not cry but when it was time to drop him off and finally say goodbye my son who has never seen me cry saw me cry and we cried together because we knew nothing would ever be the same again.I hope we can continue to do things as a family and I know he will grow up more and the rules will change but this is life and we all go through these phases as sad as they become.I still have my youngest at home and soon he will be going to college in 3 years and I feel as if for sure my heart will be broken at the end of this journey.There is nothing wrong with us being sad for our children I always wanted them to stay small and never grow up but that's impossible and so I wanted to encourage m to go out into the world and live their dreams even though it's heartbreaking and I wish I could hold on forever but it's better for them to do that because I ask myself it would be worse for me to make them stay with me and then they will never do anything with their lives and what kind of mother would I be if I did that?.It's o.k. to grieve and the hardest part will be finding things to do to fill the void since they have been my whole life and now I have to get some hobbies and make things happen that I could never do when they were younger but now will have time for.I will always love them and be there for them but I don't know how the sadness will ever go away.
Samie Tse September 27, 2013 at 03:28 AM
I am so glad to have known many parents out there experiencing the same problem. My oldest just left for college; since he is been gone, I cried every time I think of him, even at this moment writing this post. I miss him dearly. Dinner time was never the same. I left his bed untouched, the same day he woke up and left the house. I did not want to fix his bed because I want to hold on to the thought that he is still home. He calls and texts me daily, but I still miss my baby. I am very happy and proud that he made it to a well known UC campus. Bed time was the worse. I have two other sons who will be going to college in two years. I am already heart breaking thinking then the house will be so empty, just the two of us. I've tried to keep myself busy, but the moment that I sat down, I thought about him immediately. I already have anxiety and a few episodes of panic attacks a few years back due to other personal problem. It has gotten under controlled, but now I am worried that it will come back and hit me again. When he comes home on the weekend, I can't bear the thought of dropping him off. It feels as if I am dumping my child at some places else. I miss him so much and no words can describe how I feel. We chatted one night and he finally broke down and said: " I tried to keep myself busy with school daily, but by the end of the day I miss home too." He said he tired to erase the thought of being with family members and love ones so he could move on and do well in college. My son is very responsible and independent one. It is so hard to hear someone can just post a comment to you and said: " time to let go." I am very close to all my children. Life has not been the same since he left. I want to call him and chat , but I am also afraid taking his time from studying. Thank you for posting. At least, I know I am not alone. When he is down, my heart is aching. I don't know if I ever get adjusted with him being away; maybe someday. I will find ways to keep me busy and enjoy the next two years with my twins before they head to college.
Tina Tankka November 19, 2013 at 07:41 PM
My daughter came home for the 3 day week-end and it was harder than ever to say good bye...again. So much so that I realized I need to let her go and allow her to sink herself into her new life. I'm depressed and sad and realize all of this is because she'll never be back home permanently. I'm careful not to tell her I miss her too often. She needs to be confident Mom at home will be fine and not worry about her. I'm even dreading saying good bye after Thanksgiving and that hasn't even come yet! Seems this second time around was harder than saying goodbye the first time. I think it's because I really didn't expect it to hit me like this. My other friends all seem to be fine with their kids gone. I just really loved every minute of every hour of the last 18 years. I hope this sadness goes away soon. I tell my husband we should have had a dozen kids.
R Consaul November 20, 2013 at 09:30 PM
So it's been almost a whole semester. We have seen our son now on Parents weekend and a long weekend were he came home for 3 days. He will be home again for Thanksgiving next week. So all in all we're hanging in there. Although I facebook chat with him everyday about his school work.(I help him stay on track because he struggles with his ADD) He is starting to ignore my chit chat. He doesn't want to share his day to day events or feelings like he did when he first got to college. It's hard for me. We have always been really close so it makes me sad that we're drifting apart. When he has a really bad day he tells me but he doesn't share his good days like he used to. I guess he's developing his independence and I DON'T LIKE IT. But I'm thrilled too. My heart wants time to stop. The realist in me wants my son to soar. I'm just coming to the conclusion whether I want to or not that he's beginning to soar. He said to me one day that "I'm never coming back. There's nothing there for me". He was referring to the job market in our area and because he didn't have a ton of friends in high school. Well my heart sank and it still brings me to tears just thinking about it. He may still need me now but by the end of his 4 years he won't. So I will cherish his holiday's at home and reinvent a new type of relationship with him. He sent me a message just last week that eased my pain some. He said I'll never leave you, I'll always be there with you mom". The tide has turned, my son is now looking out for me, he's grown up A LOT in the last 3 months. So I'll cry when I look at his childhood pictures but beam with pride as he moves on. But no matter what he WILL still go see Santa at the mall and get his picture taken with his little sisters. Until he actually moves out there are some things that are not negotiable.
Bonnie January 06, 2014 at 03:30 PM
So many suffering hearts here. I grieve with you all, and I am glad to know that I am not alone. We took our son back to school yesterday for his second semester of college. My husband has a long work day today, and I am alone, feeling so lonely and wishing my beautiful son were here. It is so quiet and all the life has gone out of the place. There are just no words. I read that some call today Blue Monday, because of the letdown after the holidays. I feel it keenly. When he left after Thanksgiving, at least I could look forward to a quick return for Christmas. But his spring break doesn't come until March. This is the worst day since move-in day, and that was torture. I was thinking about how I miss him as he is now, a young man, but I also miss him as a baby, as a toddler, as a little boy, as a teenager. I miss all these facets of him and phases of our life. The sense of loss is so magnified by all these beautiful memories. I am thinking of going back to work, but I realize whatever job I do will pale so tremendously in comparison to being the person who raised and nurtured him. That part of our lives is over, but he will always be my heart, will always be the best part of me. To the moms and dads on here: We are the fortunate ones, we who are able to feel the loss so keenly and who know that we have done the most important job in the world. May God bless you and comfort you all.
Tammy Wall January 14, 2014 at 07:54 PM
I am so glad to have found all of your stories. I dropped my daughter off yesterday. She is on her way to Australia for the next year. I did really well at the airport, and on the way home. I went to her room and lost it. I have been crying and feeling so empty and lost inside. I am so blessed to have some wonderful friends that came and spent the day with me. They let me cry, offered me words of comfort and just spent time with me. Now it is evening, and I am again feeling so alone. Even though I have a son still at home and their father. I still feel alone. My stomach and heart are hurting and I get very anxious when I think about being alone tomorrow. My oldest went to the military 6 years ago and I thought that was bad. I never dreamed it would be harder the second time around. Me and my daughter are very close. I must admit I feel better just expressing my feelings here where I know there are others that feel my pain. Just ten minutes ago I got a message from her saying she had made it safe and sound and that she was with her host family, which I am so grateful for, but it did not help the loneliness. I am just wondering how long it will take before I can function again without this ache. I appreciate all of you for sharing.
Infidel Jones February 08, 2014 at 11:35 PM
My oldest daughter (now 20 )left for college 600 miles away in September, 2012. It's too far to drive and for us, too expensive to fly very often. I cried when she left and still feel very empty; although there are indeed a variety of ways to communicate, she has never been good on the phone; I miss all the late nights we we stay up and talk or listen to music together. (I always worked out of home, so spent a lot of time with her, as well as with her younger sister who's nearly 16.) It seems that the one in college is increasingly "too busy" to talk to me and the distance I feel is very painful; there are only three people who matter to me in life, and one is, in many ways, gone. Sure, she has to find her way as an adult and all that stuff--but in the meantime, it's been a serious loss for me. My wife has only limited sympathy; although she also misses her, she's a lot less sentimental than me. None of the "helpful suggestions" I see online are helpful, to wit: I already exercise as much as I want (which is a lot, just as it's always been); I'm not interested in "new hobbies" (and wouldn't have the money anyway); I have zero interest in religion, "volunteering," or "the community;" no desire to travel or funds to do it....and the prospect of spending more time with my wife doesn't sound good at all. (I'm an involuntary celibate of 15 years, and that will never change.)
Terri Hubner March 05, 2014 at 07:24 PM
My daughter is in her second year of college but I miss her as much today as I did the first day she went. Her father died when she was 18 months old and so it has been just the two of us. She is now 20 years old and has her own life it seems and just doesn't give me a thought unless she needs something. I'm all alone and having a hard time adjusting to being that way. It seems like it has just always been the two of us and now I feel almost abandoned. I know she loves me but I call her sometimes just to hear her voice and she just doesn't have time for me. I know she has to grow up and live her own life but I hate change and wish that it never had to. I think I'd just be content letting her live with me the rest of her life or mine. But I know that can't happen and won't but a Mom can dream I guess. I think I'd cry constantly still if I had any tears left. I'm just glad to know that there are others out there that feel the same way.
Gina Baxter Helms March 31, 2014 at 04:19 PM
I can’t express how much I needed to find this blog today. I haven’t been able to give a name to what I have been feeling since my oldest daughter went away to college in August. I have been on the verge of tears ever since. Anything and everything can make me cry. I thought that I was having a midlife crisis or that I was depressed, but thanks to this blog and your posts I realize that what I have been feeling is grief. My daughter and I have always been very close. She was the first person in my life who ever needed me and she needed me a lot. She couldn’t stand for me to be away from her. Even as a teenager she would go and do things with her friends, but then when she came home she wanted me to be there waiting. So I was very surprised when she told me that she wanted to go 800 miles away to college. As it turns out she is only 400 miles away, which is still too far to visit very often. I am much too proud of her accomplishments to ever want to hold her back and I am very happy that she is happy where she is. Still it has been very difficult for me to adjust. She goes through periods when she barely calls at all and then sometimes she gets a little homesick and calls very often. During the periods when she doesn’t call I get very sad and a little mad at her, although I don’t let her know. It hurts my feelings when she doesn’t want to talk unless she needs something. Deep down inside I know that she doesn’t intend to be that way, but it still stings a little. However, I feel that my grief is about more than just having a child move away. It represents the loss of the life we had. Our roles have changed and they will never be the same. She’ll be back home this summer, but things will be different than they were before. Moreover, it marks the beginning of the end of my life as the most important person in my children’s lives. They are all growing up and before I know it, it will be my youngest moving away. I don’t feel like I’m ready for that and I feel like it is all happening so fast. I just want to put my foot on the brake and slow everything down, but life slows down for no one. I know that I will always be their mother and that I still have a lot to offer but I will miss the days when just a kiss from Mom could make everything better. I do actually look forward to the future and the new relationships I will develop with my children, as they become adults. It is hard to explain how I can feel so sad over the loss of their childhood and look forward to their adulthood at the same time but I think from reading earlier posts that most of you can understand exactly how I feel. Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences. It helps so much to know that others are feeling the same as I do. It would be great if everyone would give updates as to how he/she is doing and what if anything has helped him/her work through the grief. I am almost through the first year of college and I don’t feel that I have progressed very far at all.


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