As life moves on its pendulum, days can feel long—laundry, child/niece/nephew care, elder care, meal preparation, car pool, homework, and financials; but the years are short—in the blink of an eye, kids are older, we are older, the life we curated has changed and the decades have flown by. Like the seasons of the year, there are some predictable patterns in life: autumn heralds cooler weather, and vivid colours emerge from the leaves. While some renew familiar activities  others are entering a brand new phase—the kids may be leaving home for post-secondary education or even a career pivot.

Many of our life transitions ignite mixed emotions: there is excited anticipation and celebration, but also, a feeling of grief and loss.

Dropping your child at a university dorm for the first time, is one life transition that brings with it powerful and mixed emotions. There is pride in the child’s achievement, but a sense of sadness, as they face an “empty nest” and questions about their role, purpose and direction. 

Tips for Transition:

1. Look ahead. Try to anticipate some of the challenges that will come with your next life transition.  Most transitions that are hard also have an upside.  Perhaps you will have time for things you haven’t done in years or have always wanted to do if only you had time.

2. Be gentle with yourself and honour your complicated feelings.  Letting go of one era and embracing the next takes time.  You are not alone in experiencing an array of emotions. 

3. Reconnect with old friends. You may find a community of people experiencing a similar situation.

4. Use this time to put yourself first. Set goals that will bring you fulfilment.  If you are in a relationship, talk about the possibilities you have as a couple moving forward.

5. Consider meeting with a counsellor or therapist. Talking through your feelings can help you process your emotions, gain insight and move forward through a transition more quickly and in a way that understands and validates your unique experience.

The team at Whole Heart are here to help support adults, teens, children and families both in-person and virtually .  To learn about our programs and services go to:

Written by Cathryn Cooper, RSW, MSW, Clinician at Whole Heart Mental Health and Wellness