First, let me tell you this, your life is not completely over. It's just changing.
Everything in life changes, nothing stays the same for long. Think about all the changes in your life up until now. You married the man you loved and thought you would always have the perfect marriage, then the first disagreement occurs. After that, things are never quite the same. They are just as good, but also different. You probably don't live in the same house that you lived in right after you married. You change your car every few years. You may have worn your hair long and flowing as a young childless newlywed and then cut it shorter with the arrival of your first child because the time it took to keep it up was vanishing, Everything changes.
There's a saying "if your not changing, your not doing anything". Life changes, you change, your children change, everything changes. If you are not changing, you are static, standing still and this is not healthy.
How do you deal with change? Do you rock with it or fight it? Did you take joy in your children when they learned a new skill? How about when they learned to dress themselves? Were you happy for them? How about when they learned to walk, were potty trained, and learned to feed themselves? Were you proud or did you say, "No. I don't want them to learn this stuff?" How did you feel when they left the house the first time in the car by themselves? Scared? Proud?
You should feel accomplished. You should feel that you have done your job well, when your children can leave home (as they should), make their own way (financially, physically, and emotionally), and can survive without you. Don't be sad, be proud. Your children are great adults and it's because of you.
I waited a long time for my children. We adopted because after years of infertility, we decided that if we wanted children, we would need to consider adoption. I stopped working at a very successful career to stay home and to homeschool my children. I was completely and totally involved in the lives of my children. I had waited a long time for them and thought I might not ever have a family.
If I can do this, you can do this.
Look at the accomplishments of your children and know you had a big part in their success.
Enjoy your occasional visit with your grown children. Offer advice when asked and listen intently always. They want a relationship with you, they don't want to be treated like children. Fight the urge to make unsolicited suggestions on their life or criticisms. They have to learn some things for themselves, even though you already know the outcome of some of their decisions, they must make those decisions and live with the results.
It's hard to think of this time of your life in this way but it is true, it is true - these are the best years of your life!
You are finally at that stage in life where you are finally not afraid to be you. The stress of keeping up with peers, setting the proper example for your children, or caring so much what others think is in the past. You know who you are, you have just forgotten, temporarily.
You must reconnect with that person you are and start living again.
Don't waste these years....I must stress this again, DO NOT WASTE THESE YEARS! You have been given a gift of a long life. It may not be perfect, but it is yours. Many people were not blessed to live to see this time of their lives, you are. No restrictions now, no rules (except laws, don't break any legal laws.....lol), and no chains. You can be you, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor, you can now be totally free.....
DO NOT WASTE THESE BLESSED YEARS!
"An empty nest doesn't mean an empty life,
- Sheryl -
Do you have ENS? Do you unrealized dreams and goals that you can now focus on? Do you have hobbies you never had time for before? Do not waste these years, this is a warning, this is the best time of your life....enjoy them before they are gone, you won't get any more.