An Empty Nest Ritual for Parents and Grown Children

Photo by Genevieve Munoz


By Genevieve Munoz

Although my awesome son has been on his own for many years now, today he and his girlfriend have moved to a new city two hours away. I am so happy and thrilled for them! New jobs, new adventures, and many, many friends who already live in the same area! For me, it is bittersweet. I cannot control the emotions that have washed over me. Perhaps the tears were a good thing; (in fact, I know that they were). They brought back so many wonderful memories of special and every day times with my children. In a beautiful moving picture, I watched them grow up all over again, only to be so proud of the wonderful young people that they are today.

These last few feathers that remained in the nest (simply because he lived in the same town) are now gone. As a symbolic gift to him, I gave them this bird nest that is empty. I included a little wooden heart because it is what I always included after my signature in cards to both my children. So…the heart and nest is being passed on to them; to start their own lives in a new place and to fill their own nest with their love and new adventures.

With this event, I wanted to share an Empty Nest Ritual with you that I’ve created, from a first-person, mother’s perspective.

Here’s what I used (feel free to modify these things for your own ritual):

  • a small cloth covered table
  • a bird’s nest
  • my wooden heart shaped box given to me by my daughter years ago
  • 2 tiny bird’s eggs
  • a thin leather cord for stringing beads
  • 2 special, hand chosen beads by my children

The Ritual: An Empty Nest Ritual to celebrate both parents and grown children

My children are gathered at my little cabin up the shore.  We are standing outside in front of my big kitchen picture window where I often gaze at trees, birds, and wildlife.  I tell them how proud I am of the fine people they’ve become and how very much I have loved being their mother and role model.  My role has now shifted.

They are grown; both college graduates, doing wonderful things in the world and making a difference in people’s lives.  The 2 bird’s eggs in the nest represent my children.  I open the wooden heart shaped box and place the 2 symbols inside. I close the lid – they remain forever in my heart.

My children each give me, one by one, a special bead they have chosen for me and say what is in their hearts before stringing them on to the leather cord.  I put on my new symbolic gift.

Then, all three of us look around at the trees for a good branch, and find the perfect one.  We place the bird’s nest onto that branch, making sure of a snug and secure fit.

As I gaze outside my kitchen window, I can see that bird’s nest that once represented my children and me.  Now I can watch another mother bird as she tends to her nest and little ones, preparing them to fly.  The cycle continues…