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Linda Hanstra is a mother of four, wife of one, who writes to encourage empty-nesters on topics of family, faith, travel, and more at

Last year, my parents celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary together, here on earth. Today, on what would have been their 65th, they are together in heaven. It’s made me ponder the importance of anniversaries and of marking the years with gratitude. We may not all be lucky enough to make it to 64 years. Whether we hit ten years, the silver 25, the ordinary 33, or the golden 50, our next anniversary together is never guaranteed. And so we celebrate while we can.

My husband and I tied the knot on April 16, 1988, and 33 years later, we’re still…

My friend Deb read 103 books in 2020. I was beyond impressed.

I read twelve. There are many reasons my number was in the 10’s and not in the 100’s. But the excuse I most often give is “I’m a slow reader.”

I wish I could zip through books like some of my friends. But alas, my way with words is a sauntering way.

Despite my snail’s pace, I have found one thing that pushes me on in my reading. It’s what writers and avid readers know as “the hook.” I can be drudging my way through a chapter, just…

A speech-language pathologist explores the power of words and Amanda Gorman’s inauguration day poem.

Pow!words. That’s the term I’ve coined for my vocabulary students. I’ve told them that words have power and the more words they know, the better words they choose, the more power they have to communicate. After all, communication is what it’s all about. I’m a speech-language pathologist.

Speech pathology during a pandemic.

Last spring, when the world went into lockdown mode, my work changed dramatically. First, there was a quiet period of waiting. Of sending messages through Google Classroom letting my students know I didn’t want them to forget to practice their speech. …

— Empty Nest Living | Linda Hanstra

“Then the tables turned. As my children needed less of me, my parents needed more.”

Will you let me be your servant?

Let me be as Christ to you

Pray that I may have the grace

To let you be my servant too

We are pilgrims on a journey

Fellow travelers on the road…

Lately, I have been a frequent “traveler on the road.” My mom is in hospice care and even though she’s been stable for the past few weeks, I know my days with her are limited. So every week or two, I make the hour and 45-minute…

Linda Hanstra | Empty Nest Living

Note: This article explores grief and sadness, which are related to but not the same as clinical depression. If you are experiencing signs of clinical depression, please seek professional help.

PC T L (Unsplash)

“It’s been one month today.”

I hit Send on my “sister chat.”

It seemed important to acknowledge the one-month anniversary of Dad’s death. That now-familiar feeling of emptiness was hovering around me, as it had over the past several weeks.

The day he died, and for several days after, my eyes were like spigots with tears flowing freely and often without warning. I grieved the unexpected loss and let the emotions pour out. …

-Linda Hanstra | Empty Nest Living

Back in January of 2020, I wrote a story about the “permacloud” that was hanging over my little corner of the world in southwest Michigan. I mentioned the sadness we were all feeling due to the gloom and doom of…the weather.

In retrospect, it seems so shallow of me to complain about the weather!

I mentioned a few other causes of sadness too, including a “deadly virus,” never imagining that four months later nearly 400,000 people worldwide (100,000 Americans) would lose their life to that virus, and life as we knew it would come to a sudden halt.

Nor could…

— Empty Nest Living | Linda Hanstra

I’m trying to wrap my head around the idea of becoming a grandmother. It won’t be long now.

I imagine cradling that little bundle, my own son’s child. Beyond that though, I can’t really imagine becoming “Grandma”. Will I know what to do? Do I have what it takes?

Luckily, I’ve had some pretty good models.

I remember my grandmas.

My Dad’s mom lived down at the end of our driveway, a two-minute walk away. A hardworking farmer’s wife, I don’t recall her laughing much. But she always had a jarful of cookies. Before I would stick my dirty farmgirl hands in the jar…

— Empty Nest Living | Linda Hanstra

Warmer temperatures have finally arrived in southwest Michigan. That, combined with an inexplicable (ha!) urge to get out of the house has resulted in a few invigorating bike rides this week. Although I often ride with my husband, today I ride solo, looking forward to the peace and quiet; a time to meditate and rejuvenate.

Since I am expecting solitude, imagine my surprise when my ride is interrupted twice in the first five minutes by socializing (at a distance, of course)! Less than a half-mile from home I come upon my best friend-neighbor and her dear mother who are out…

Today, the 26th of March, was the day we would have boarded a plane for our dream vacation to Ireland and Scotland.

Obviously, that is not happening.

Just three weeks ago, our youngest daughter was studying abroad in Ireland and my husband and I were planning a grand trip to visit her. It would be our first trip to Europe in fifteen years and our first-ever adventure to the Emerald Isle. As I browsed Rick Steves and TripAdvisor, I busily mapped out our itinerary and made hotel and Airbnb reservations.

Then came the rumblings of a pandemic.

On Wednesday, March…

Question: What do “Amazing Grace” and “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” have in common?

Let me give you a clue.

I recently discovered the playlist: “Rita Wilson’s Quarantunes.” Wilson, who contracted COVID-19 along with her husband Tom Hanks, put this eclectic mix together with input from her fans. It contains love ballads, spiritual songs, and upbeat dance tunes to encourage us (and bring a little humor) during this time of quarantine and social distancing.

While I enjoy most of the songs, the mix is so eclectic that its randomness leaves me uneasy. For example, transitioning from the slow…

Linda Hanstra

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