ADVANCED psychotherapist and clinical hypnotherapist CLAIRE GASKIN sees clients in Essex and in London’s Harley Street. She is now bringing her expertise to the problems of our readers as our agony aunt. If you have a problem you’d like Claire’s advice with, email work, visit

Dear Claire,

Last year my oldest son went to university and although I miss him dreadfully, I didn’t notice it too much within my day to day life because I had my younger son at home still.

But once his A-Level exams are over he plans to go travelling for the summer and then off to university himself and the thought terrifies me.

My husband and I have been married 25 years and I always thought we were happy but now I am starting to think actually all we might have in common is our children. I don’t really do anything other than make sure he and our sons have everything they need and then I go to work.

How will I fill my life ? The worry is keeping me awake at night.

Claire says:

Empty nest syndrome is when parents experience feelings of sadness, grief and loss of purpose when their last child leaves home.

Talk to your husband - he may well be feeling the same. You could also discover you share the same hopes and dreams for the future and are able to rekindle your relationship, in this next phase of marriage.

Fear is really about the unknown and worrying whether we will cope.

At the moment, you’re not sure how life will unfold, which is unnerving. But, as soon as you realise it’s you who holds the reins, fear will dissipate.

A large part of your identity is rooted in being a wife and mother so forging a new sense of self will help you to find purpose again.

Do all the stuff you haven’t had time for. Try new things.

Fulfil any need to be useful by volunteering with a local charity.

If adventure is long overdue you might even look further afield. Lots of organisations offer opportunities in other countries, such as ‘Voluntary Services Overseas’.

Keep in regular touch with your children and, on difficult days, lean on friends and family for support. You’re still mum but it’s time for you now, too. Enjoy it!