Gwyneth Paltrow Reveals She's Struggling With 'Impending Grief' As Son Prepares To Leave Home

Here's how you can deal with "empty nest" grief.
Gwyneth Paltrow
ROBYN BECK via Getty Images
Gwyneth Paltrow

As your last child moves out, you can’t help but feel a sense of grief. Navigating emotions after becoming an “empty nester” can be complicated.

Actor Gwyneth Paltrow, revealed to the Sunday Times her fears of becoming an empty nester.

The Oscar winner is currently preparing to send off her 17-year-old son, Moses, to university. Her daughter Apple, 19, has also moved out, with stepson Brody set to follow suit soon, too.

With this, the thought of having an empty house has apparently left Gwyneth filled with fear.

She said: “On the one hand, [I feel] incredible sadness. A deep sense of impending grief. On the other hand this is exactly what should be happening.

“Your kids are supposed to be, you know, young adults who can achieve and cope and make connections and be resilient. That’s exactly what you want. And that means they leave the house.”

How to deal with empty nest grief

If you’re going through something similar to Gwyneth, Emily Mendez a private practice psychotherapist and mental health writer at Blog of Tom, says that although it’s not easy, there are ways to deal with the grief.

“As someone who has counselled families through this emotional rite of passage time and again, I’ve witnessed how profoundly disorienting this life phase can be, even when logically expected,” she explains.

“For parents who centred so much of their identity and daily lives around raising kids, the departure of that final child can trigger overwhelming senses of loss, aimlessness, and an existential emptiness that feels impossible to fill.

“Suddenly, there’s this gaping void where the whirlwind of chauffeuring, cheering from bleachers, and imparting hard-won wisdom once reigned. The adjustment is seismic on both a practical and psychological level.”

Emily says that parents who have worked themselves to the bone suddenly unravel in the stillness and lack of purpose, this often unleashes a torrent of questioning every decision, and every sacrifice made in their dissolved role.

Though the intensity of emotions like sadness, anxiety, and even depression during this transition can’t be overstated, it’s also ripe with opportunities for profound growth and self-rediscovery.

“With the right coping strategies and mindset shifts, the empty nest can catalyse exciting new chapters of purpose, freedom, and reconnection,” she adds.

Emily recommends being proactive and filling newly open schedules and living spaces with activities, hobbies, and people who inspire joy.

She also says it’s great to reconnect with long-neglected passions, dive into volunteer work, travel, take enriching classes, or strategically downsize and declutter your space. Don’t allow idleness to become stagnation.

“It’s also vital to intentionally nurture the relationships easily deprioritised amid the parenting whirlwind. Plan regular date nights, getaways, and quality time with your partner. Socialise more with friends whose company you’ve missed. Rebuild those supportive networks beyond the nuclear family,” she adds.

It’s also a time to reflect on who you are as an individual outside of the parental identity. Rediscover personal values, hopes, and dreams that may have gone dormant. It’s never too late to writer a thrilling next chapter for yourselves as you gracefully evolve into this new normal.

“The empty nest reckoning isn’t easy, but it need not be as isolating or adrift as it may feel at first. You can make this a refreshing milestone towards an enriching post-parenting life despite the initial pangs of loss,” she concludes.