Empty Nest – it's not just a chick thing!

6ft tall, bald, tattoos, football mad. Looking more like a football hooligan than a businessman. I’m not supposed to show my feeling other than when my team scores a goal, right? That’s how society views men or is it that’s how men want society to view them?

Men are bought up in a lot of cases having to supress emotions and from a young age we are told to “get on with it” “man up” “big boys don’t cry”. You get the picture.

We absorb our children’s / partners / wives’ problems, and deal with whatever life throws at us… Death, divorce, job loss, house move, all massive life events.

How do we deal with it? How are we supposed to deal with it? Drink, drugs, smoking, affairs, violence, comfort eating and many other destructive actions, other than TALKING and taking ACTION!

It is no coincidence that of the 6500 + suicides each year, approx 4500 are men. That is a staggering amount. A major factor in all of this is Grief, then stress, anxiety, depression with all the negative actions listed above, and ultimately in a lot of instances suicide!

Roll back the years to 2014. It’s September and my son brings his new girlfriend home to meet us. Very nice, well done son, definitely punching there if I may say so!

All is going well. Then a few days after my birthday in early November, me and my son are sitting having dinner and he’s looking a little down so I ask “you ok, what’s up” “nothing” he replies. I ask “she’s not pregnant, is she?” He answered with a verbal sledgehammer to my stomach “yes”.

This is my son. Who is my best pal. I bought him up from the age of 10 after I split from his Mum and he came to live with me. MY son. Who now, is to become a Dad himself. And make me a Grandad at 46, WTF, how is this going to work out? Obviously, I am going to support him as much as possible.

He moves out in March 2015 and becomes a Dad in July and I am overwhelmed. I am so proud. The love I am feeling for my Son, his Girlfriend and Granddaughter Delilah is unmeasurable. Overwhelming. My emotions are all over the place.

But I am not feeling quite myself. My house is empty. Just me and my beautiful wife. I miss my son. I feel wave after wave of grief consuming me, it’s as if this dark cloud follows me everywhere. He doesn’t need me anymore. I always told him I was the lion king, he was my little cubling. And now he is the lion king with his own cubling.

My chick has flown the nest.

Some call it “empty nest” syndrome. I call it “how dare my son f**king leave me and start his own life syndrome”. I am not thinking rationally. For the next 6 to 12 months I put a brave face on, I “man up”. Until one day I break down in front of my wife and let it all out. I feel ashamed for being so weak. My wife Sally, says all the right things and, after a few days of feeling sorry for myself I start to feel better. Whilst all this was going on, sledgehammer number 2 hits, they are expecting baby number 2, and Fletcher, my handsome grandson arrives October 2016. I almost explode with love when I see him.

It was not until a few weeks ago (Feb 2018) whilst completing my Grief Recovery Method training that I really came to terms with my son leaving the nest, leaving home. Husbands/partners get affected by children leaving home, even other siblings do. Mum’s clearly feel the pain when their children leave home. Women talk. They have friends and family usually for support, not always but it is usually the Mum that is VISIBLY affected and everyone rallies round. Men are usually there in the background, supressing their Grief supporting the family. Men need to talk more. Deal with their Grief.

Grief affects us all. It needs to be dealt with. Don’t let it control you.

So, I am in a great place now. My cubling and his cublings are fantastic. Life is great.

I have trained to become a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist with the intent on helping as many people recover from grief as possible with the method I have learned. Men in particular need to come forward. Look around you, do you have a Brother, Father, Son, Uncle, neighbour that could do with some support or help? You could potentially help save a life, at worst, improve someone’s!