Tag Archives: Holiday grief

The Empty Chair at Christmas

Christmas feastBefore I even sit down at the Christmas table my senses  overwhelm me with memories. Of our 5 senses the strongest memory keeper is smell. I smell the ham with a brown sugar glaze just how my mother-in-law made it. The smells bring back the bitter-sweet memories I have of helping her in the kitchen. The tears well up but I push them back, it is too early to get teary.

Gathering around the table decorated beautifully with red and green ornaments, and evergreen boughs tied in bright red bows highlighted with three candles, one for each of my children who died over the last three years.

Bowing our heads in prayer we thank God for all the blessing and light the candles. My husband’s voice cracks, “As we light these candles let’s share things we remember about Josh, Beth, and Chris.” Each child had a favorite flavor. Josh loved cinnamon, Beth vanilla, and for Chris it was Monster drinks so we settled on citrus. I bought those scented candles to burn throughout the day.

In the pause that followed I want to share but I couldn’t say a word as my throat tightened holding back the tears. Silently I reach into a bag and pull out a small raccoon; Josh’s favorite animal, a frog for Beth, and lastly a giraffe for Chris. I gently place these on the table and in my way include them in our celebration.

I miss their smiles, hugs and laughter. Tears well up, unable to hold them back any longer but joy resides below the surface for I have the assurance from God that someday we will again sit at a feast together, the wedding feast of the lamb.

Finding my place at the table I settle in reach for my napkin to dry the tears then slide my hand into Scott’s, the circle continues until all hands are held around the table. Heads bowed as Scott said grace over our meal.  We are all here.

Suggestions for the Holiday table:

  • Leave an empty seat, our loved one is gone but not forgotten
  • Scented candles for each family member who is no longer here
  • Stuffed animals to represent loved ones

Christmas is the celebration of Heaven coming to earth and the wedding feast a celebration after we enter Heaven.

What do you now do different with a loved one gone?