OPINION | DEAR ABBY: Depressed mom can’t overcome grief about her empty nest

Dear Abby: I’ve been married for 22 years. Our son is leaving for Marine boot camp the day after his 18th birthday. He will be a third-generation Marine, and we are extremely proud of him. He will be stationed in California, several states away from us. Our soon-to-be 21-year-old daughter graduated from college, and we are also very proud of her. She lives an hour and a half away.

My problem is, although we see our daughter often, every time she goes home, I’m grief-stricken and break down. The idea of our son leaving has me grief-stricken, as well. I can’t even look at him without breaking down and crying. I cry daily, sometimes for hours.

I’m severely depressed to the point that I sometimes don’t make it to work. I have broken down at work as well. I’m heartbroken over becoming an empty nester. I’m crying just writing this. I haven’t been this sad since my dear mom passed away a few years ago.

I know I have to get it together and this is not healthy. I also know how blessed I am to have children who are ambitious and healthy enough to fly on their own. I used to be particular about my appearance and no longer care about that. Is this normal? — Tearful In Michigan

Dear Tearful: While it is normal to feel sadness when children leave the nest, the symptoms you have described are those of severe depression. I am glad you wrote, because it gives me the opportunity to advise you to talk to your physician about what’s been going on. You may be grieving not only the fact that your children are leaving but also for the loss of your former life as a young wife and mother. There is medical and psychological help for the pain you are experiencing. A licensed therapist will help you regain your emotional balance. Please don’t wait to reach out.

Dear Abby: I rent a room from an elderly gentleman. His daughter also lives with him. I have paid to have the general area of the home cleaned for him because of his age. His daughter contributes nothing at all and leaves the kitchen a complete mess along with the rest of the home. He never says anything to her about it. She’s basically lazy and sloppy and takes advantage of her father. Should I stop paying for the cleaning service because of her actions? — Lending A Hand In Florida

Dear Lending: What’s going on doesn’t seem fair. Talk to your landlord and ask if the money you are paying for rent could be reduced by the amount you have been paying the cleaner. And if he refuses, consider finding another place to live.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069 or visit