An Empty Chair

The lights are up. The snowflakes are falling. The children are very excited. The holidays are almost here. But this year, this year my heart breaks because there is an empty chair at thousands of tables.

You may be experiencing the same thing. Over 300,000 American households will have empty chairs due to Covid-19. In Ohio, more than 2,00 people have died of overdose so far and we haven’t reached the end of 2020. The statistics of cancer, suicide, automobile accidents, cardiac arrest, etc. have not been tallied yet for 2020.

While mistletoe and holly are being strung across the balconies, tears are being shed for loved ones lost…in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Children’s Hospitals and in our very homes. Grief is piercing at the holidays.

The way my family fills the empty chair is with memories. We tell stories about our missing loved ones. The story about the year the turkey was undercooked and we had to microwave each piece before it was served. Or the story about the year he bought an Oscar the Grouch and put him in a silver trash can to welcome our 3-year-old son to his home. Precious stories that make us laugh until we cry. These stories fill, not only the empty chair, but our hearts and our homes with holiday cheer.

For you see, that chair is never really empty. It is full of sweet, beautiful memories. Some memories are very painful. Some are incredibly wonderful. I’ll take them all…because that’s what grief during the holidays is all about.

Share your memories, it will heal your heart. Cry together…there is nothing more soothing. Laugh together, love together and be family – if not by blood, then by love. Sometimes the very best families are by love. When a chair is empty, fill it with memories and another soul who needs love. Invite the widower down the street, or the college student from China or the neighbor whose family lives in Texas and won’t be traveling because of COVID.

Happy Holidays from Holistic Consultation

– Renee Ahern, PhD, MS, MDiv, LPCC-S