Emotional Roots Part 2: Rerooting the Empty Nest

Last year I wrote a post called, “Can You Go Home Again?” It was primarily about adults who moved back into their family home. There are many who move back home and find a new sense of place. “Childhood is where you developed the foundation of who you are. The foundation that rocked your cradle and kept you warm and dry, also set your emotional and physical sense of place.” But, what happens when the move away is from your adult family home?

Here’s the scenario: As a young family you buy a home in a vibrant community, raise a few children and nurture enduring friendships. One by one, the children empty the nest. You find that the once-perfect home and community no longer meets your needs. The empty rooms, the maintenance of keeping a large house and gardens, the increasingly far proximity to those fledglings that flew the nest, and a new sense of freedom that makes for a restlessness that builds until it gives way to a wanderlust, takes hold.

This happened to two of my favorite people. We raised our babies together, discussed our kid’s schooling, commiserated about teenage angst, had endless conversations about the interconnected lives of the members of our community, and then we watched our respective children (all five of them) fly away from the nest. And then, my friends flew the coop. They sold the family home, left their friends tearfully behind, and set off on a new adult-sized adventure. Eventually, they rerooted in a new community and a new home.

This scenario is not as uncommon as you might think. Apparently, about a third of all empty nesters move or plan to move when their kids leave home.

After a year away, my friends came back recently for a short visit. Over a nostalgic dinner, I asked my long-lost artist friends, Brad and Cindy about their experience of moving from New York to Utah.

Brad and Cindy: “It was so hard to leave after 25 years. The pull to follow our new freedom was painfully strong. One of the most difficult parts was to look objectively at all of our possessions. After a massive tag sale, we started to simplify, and it became so liberating. For us, we went from a 3,000 sq. ft house filled with kids, constant activity and 25 yrs worth of stuff and we now live in a 1,200 sq. ft home. Every available living space became precious. We thought long and hard about making sure that everything we kept was necessary or essential to the new space. The emotional piece of moving away still tugs at us, so here we are visiting.”

Now they’ve left…again. Saying good-bye this time was much easier. We’ve all survived their move and we keep in touch mostly by using technology – Facebook, email and Skype.

Has anything similar happened to you? Please share your stories of rerooting.

Artwork: Bradley Clark


Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson5 years ago


Joy Wong
Joy W7 years ago

Thank you for the post. It brought back so many sad, heartbreaking memories.

Carole K.
Carole K7 years ago

As a matter of fact, this scenario is currently being played out in my own life. In our case, we have lived in our present location for 22 years. I had anticipated that we would never move again bc this is a good place to raise children & my husband & I liked & were secure in our jobs. Now, we're retired & children are far away. The house we just purchased is two states & over 500 miles away; but close to where our daughter & her family live. We looked around & realized that we were missing family connections that are not here anymore...

Borg Drone
Past Member 7 years ago

Thanks For Posting !!

carole a.
.7 years ago

Well, unfortunately not everyone has a supportive family. I was raised by two sociopaths, and an older sister. I knew they were dangerous at age 4 and stayed as far away from them as possible. I raised my son, he's grown and a good man. After he moved out, I left the country and live in Mexico by myself. His father was murdered when he was 5. Freedom and heart are what I cannot live without.

Susan Goodson
Susan Goodson7 years ago

It's so hard! Need house without stairs. Mom (age 80) wants us to move closer (rural without as good medical/dental care); daughter (age 40) wants us to move closer (1/2 way across country) as she'll be the child helping us as we age and we can help with grandchildren when they're sick or have school breaks. Husband about to retire - doesn't want to sort through his hoardings. I've decided what I want to move and Mom and Dad already downsized so I have what I want from their auction. Thought I'd passed sandwich generation 20 years ago! Back to shrink I guess.

Rana Sinha
Rana Sinha7 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Isabelle J.
Isabelle J.7 years ago

very nice

Jane L7 years ago


Hugo Godinez
Hugo Godinez7 years ago

thanks for the info