Photo via vanessabryant/Instagram

On Wednesday, Vanessa Bryant took to Instagram to share that she had just dropped her daughter Natalia off at college. Bryant shared a photo of her and her three daughters, Natalia, 18, Bianka, 4, and Capri, 2, all smiling together. Little Bianka was even wearing a USC sweatshirt in support of her big sister.

“Today was rough,” Vanessa wrote alongside the picture. She added “(This was before the tears came down).”

In reference to the late Kobe and Gigi Bryant, Vanessa also added “Missing ✌🏽forever. I love you @nataliabryant BE EPIC and FIGHT ON.” Natalia Bryant responded to her mom’s tribute in the comment section, writing “I love you!!!”

Back in March, Vanessa revealed that Natalia had been accepted into the University of Southern California. In a jubilant Instagram video, followers saw Natalia Bryant jumping up and down in excitement over the news that she was accepted to college.

“Tears of joy,” Bryant wrote under that video. “I’m SO happy for you Nani! I know daddy is so PROUD OF YOU. I am so PROUD OF YOU!! Your hard work and dedication was so worth it. You pushed through the most excruciating pain imaginable and you succeeded. I wish Daddy and Gigi were physically here to celebrate but I know they’re here in spirit. We love you so much!”

Vanessa Bryant isn’t the only parent experiencing separation anxiety over sending their child off to college.

When some parents experience their first child going off to college, they sometimes struggle with feeling a large void. The pandemic definitely didn’t help things, either, as many parents have become even closer with their children in the past year after spending more time with them.

If you’re going through something similar, know that these feelings are normal. After years of devoting tons of time and energy to raising your child, you might find yourself left with more free time. The house isn’t as loud or as vibrant. Things are quiet. It can be disconcerting.

Luckily, there are ways to soothe the ache of losing a child to college. In fact, becoming an empty nester can even become an exciting new chapter in your life.

To help with the transition, empty nest expert Natalie Crane suggests writing a letter to your child about what you love and appreciate about them before they go to college. She also suggests creating a list of activities you want to do in the coming months and reaching out to some friends to put some get-togethers on the calendar.

“Life gets more fun beyond the empty nest,” Crane writes on her website, “Each person travels with their own shoes and stumbles, sits to weep, and to dream. You carry both the new freedom and the missing of the role you had…”