Thursday, December 8, 2011

Help For Dealing With The Empty Chair at Christmas

Here's a book I highly recommend for getting through Christmas:
The Empty Chair--Handling grief on holidays and special occasions, by Susan J. Zonnebelt-Smeege and Robert C. DeVries, Baker Books, 2001. 91 pages.

These authors know grief both professionally and personally. Their spouses died shortly before the holiday season. Robert, having accidently set a place for his wife at the holiday dinner table, and Susan, who wanted to skip Christmas, write with practicality and compassion using the profound metaphor of a forest fire to describe grief and going through the holidays. Holidays are defined as all the calendar events--July 4th, Valentines Day, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, etc.; plus the personal events of birthdays, anniversaries, and other special days, so this is a year-round book, but especially nice during Christmas.
Each chapter briefly anchors the reader in understanding what they've experienced: the devastation, the ashes, the memories, the hope. Then they share action points and healthy behaviors to implement, plus a page of reflection on Scripture and a written prayer.
It's a beautiful nugget of a book. It's written to a general audience--for all who have lost any loved one, be it spouse, child, parent or friend. While the readership is assumed to be Christian, there are two candle-lighting memorials to choose from in the appendix of the book--one is non-religious, the other is Christian.
If you've read The Empty Chair, please tell what you thought of it. For more information, take a closer look on or Amazon.


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