Empty Nest Grief–How My Dog Has Helped

Empty Nest Grief

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When my daughter moved out from our home, I was overcome with empty nest grief.

I think that’s a common response for many, isn’t it?

I had been a single parent during much of my daughter’s life, so my own sense of empty nest grief was profound. My entire world seemed upside down without her presence in the house.

For years, my entire existence had been designed around her needs, and suddenly–I didn’t know what to do with myself.

I recognized I had a hole in my heart, and needed to fill it up with something quickly.

So I begged my husband for a dog.

He resisted at first.

It’s not that he’s unkind, or uncaring.

It’s just that we were going through enough change because of our daughter’s departure, and he was unsure what adding a dog to the new mix might cause.

Eventually, I explained how much I was suffering because of my empty nest grief.

meeting Gibson
This photo was taken at the adoption fair where I met Gibson. As soon as he crawled into my arms, I knew he had picked his human.

My husband listened carefully, as he always does, and I poured out my broken heart.

We recognized that I genuinely needed something else to care for, since my only child was no longer there.

So that is how we came to have Gibson, who is a rescue dog.

My husband took a chance on him, and we’ve never looked back.

Having Gibson join our family has made an enormous difference in my life, and genuinely helped me manage my empty nest grief.

When I first met Gibson, he was trembling at the back of his crate at an adoption fair.

The event was run by our local humane society, and featured lots of animated, frisky pets.

People gathered around the many playful puppies, but ignored the little yellow dog shaking in the back of his cage.

I didn’t.

I was immediately drawn to him.

I recognized his fear and uncertainty from across the room, because I was dealing with similar feelings, myself.

This little yellow dog had my sympathy,  because something big had changed in his life. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been at this adoption fair.

Maybe his owner had died.  Perhaps his owner had surrendered him.

Whatever the reason, this tiny yellow dog was now alone in the world.

So quietly, I sat on the floor next to him. I carefully opened the door to his crate, but otherwise didn’t engage.

I simply sat there quietly, not leaving his side.

After about twenty minutes, he gingerly came out of the crate, and crawled up into my lap.

Then he licked my hand.


I was done for.

Gibson is now a fully vetted member of our family.

g in necktie profile
Gibson, like many other Southern gentlemen, prefers to wear a bow tie.

He’s is a twelve pound fireplug of unconditional affection and support, and no longer trembles with fear.

He knows he’s home, rescued and adored.

Over the years, with gentleness and velvet brown eyes, he has helped me manage my empty nest grief.

Because of my recent foot surgery, transportation is sometimes difficult for me.

As a result, I do as much shopping online as I am able.

I even buy my groceries online, and then just pick them up, without going up and down each aisle.

Not only is this a time saver, it’s easier on me physically as I recover.

As I was managing this new change, one of the things I looked up to purchase online were dog supplies.

Dog accessories online abound, so I wanted to make sure to find dog food

dog food delivery
This is what the box from The Naked Dog Box looks like when you open it–it’s full of goodies!

that was as healthy for Gibson as possible.

Enter The Naked Dog Box.

This is a subscription service for all-natural dog food, delivered to you at no charge.

I no longer have to worry about remembering to get dog food, or running out at an inconvenient time.

Even better–Gibson loves it.

Just the smell of the box gets his attention.

He trots beside me as I bring the box inside the house, put it up onto the kitchen counter, and open it all up.

He especially loves the dog training treats, which have lots of salmon in them.

According to Gibson’s response to these training treats, they are insanely good. And so is the food. He cleans the bowl every time!

I put some of the treats into his Kong whenever we have to leave the house, and he hardly notices our absence.

The food is ridiculously nutritious.

I’ve joked with my husband that I could actually feed it to him for dinner, because of its wholesome ingredients!

Seriously–this is healthy stuff, ya’ll.

So here’s a link, in case you’re interested in trying it out.

Just click here, and you can get set up with an easy home delivery service for premium pet food, that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

In the meantime, Gibson will continue to share his unwavering affection with me, as I continue to navigate this new phase of my life.

If you want to read more about empty nesting, or the crazy,( and probably undeserved loyalty) of our animals, here are some more articles for you to enjoy:

He Was Her Big Brother

“And Just Like That, They’re Gone” 

Survival Guide–10 Ways to Cope With an Empty Nest

And don’t forget to tell me about your pet in the comments below! Do you have an animal that has helped you find emotional balance after a difficult thing took place  in your life?

I want to hear all about it!


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**Chanler Jeffers has seen many extraordinary things over her lifetime. An adventurer, survivor, overachiever and advocate of kindness in all instances, she has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), and is a member of their Circle of Champions. She has had the good fortune to live and travel all over the world, grew up as a military dependent and was a single parent for many years. She has survived cancer, and gently shaped countless people over her years on this little planet we call home. Follow along as she shares her knowledge, her experience and her love. Oh, by the way–one more thing. She’s married to a Bass playing rock star, lucky girl.

TeamJeffers is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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  1. I also adopted a rescue dog who was going to be euthanized. No one wanted her- protruding lower teeth, 2 yrs. old, with a cyst on her eye. Friends fostered her, and she seemed to choose me. I fell in love with her. She is the absolute best! There’s nothing like the love of a loyal dog!

    1. Yes, I totally get it, Ginny! And I often think the rescued ones are the most loyal of all, because they know what they were up against. They’re so grateful about being rescued, they will follow you to the ends of the Earth! Thanks so much for the comment, and being a mutual dog-rescuer! 🙂

  2. I always find it really interesting to read about empty nest grief – we always knew our two children would leave home to go to the city for university and I think I was well prepared and ready by the time they left (almost a little bit relieved to have them embarking on adulthood) We had a dog and cat so I guess the nest was never completely empty – I can see that having your lovely little dog would have made a huge difference in the transition process for you. I write a lot about the empty nest and how lovely it is when the fledglings return for visits. Lovely to have found your blog 🙂
    Leanne | cresting the hill

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comments, Leanne. You’re exactly right–I’m not sure how I could have coped without Gibson. I sometimes think he rescued me more than I rescued him. Lovely to have made a connection with a fellow blogger, especially one who focuses on the same sorts of things! Let’s try to stay connected, and I wish you every success! 🙂

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