Empty Nest Syndrome may not be a clinically diagnosed definition but it is a very real issue that many parents and caregivers experience when their children leave home. It is not uncommon for feelings of depression, sadness or grief to be experienced for several months, particularly when there has been daily contact with a child.
At Motherwell Cheshire we have seen an increase in the number of women who are reaching out to us for support who would describe themselves as ‘empty nesters’. Many of these women have dedicated their whole lives to bringing up their children and so it is not surprising when they are left feeling bereft when they leave home. Many of the women we see feel that they have lost their purpose and don’t know who they are without that identity of being a Mum.
Feelings of loss and grief can occur during any major life transition but we can under-estimate the effect of children leaving home. Many women have a natural desire to nurture and not being able to express this can affect their mental health. It was through chatting about this issue with some of the more experienced volunteers at Motherwell Cheshire that I came up with the idea to match experienced mothers to younger women without a mother figure to help them on their motherhood journey.
Brightstars, the inter-generational mentoring scheme, is one of the most rewarding projects I have been involved in. We match women over 50 to younger mums who might benefit from their experience as a mentor because they have experienced mental health issues and/or family breakdown. The mentoring relationship is designed to be long-term over a couple of years so that trust is built up and a deep relationship forms and we have found it to be really life-changing for both women.
We match them based on their experience and personality and the mentors all receive coaching, training and safeguarding guidance which enables them to know how to handle some of the challenges that they might be presented with.
Brightstars is funded by Brightlife, a National Lottery funded partnership led by Age UK Cheshire, which supports projects designed to combat loneliness and isolation in the over 50’s. The Motherwell Cheshire team is actively seeking new mentors and any women looking to get involved as a mentor can email: [email protected]