Monday, July 29, 2013

Dealing With The Daily Reminders
Two or three weeks after the funeral I finally made supper for my two teenagers and me. Put the plates on the table. We sat down.

We weren't prepared for that empty chair. It sat there cold and hard. We suddenly lost our appetites after a forkful or two, cleared the table and went off to other things. No amount of beautiful table settings, gracious dinner music or gourmet cooking could have ever warmed it up. I tried to imagine God as our unseen guest, but my imagination wasn't that good.

Man, that was hard! That simple, stupid empty chair. An inanimate object I couldn't avoid or get around.

Did you have obstacles like that in your journey through grief? Maybe for you it was a family picture, coming home to an empty house, seeing his car in the garage, trying to sleep in an empty bed, visiting your husband's family or even going to church?

For me, that empty chair had to be filled with guests. That was hard to do, especially with the crazy schedules people keep now--families seldom eat together anyway. But I enjoyed having dinner guests and I learned that God commanded us to practice hospitality as much for our own sake as for another's.

For the rest of the year I relaxed the standard of us all having dinner together. I went more casual and we ate at the smaller table in the kitchen or took our plates in front of the tv. Instead of butting my head and heart against the immovable chair, I opted for change and opened my home. Bit by bit God opened my heart.

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. I Peter 4:9


  1. I am still not able to sit at the table and eat. His place setting is still there but I eat in front of the computer or at our double recliner. His side has the Bible, Postcards from the Widows Path Book, Portals of Prayer magazine, A Decembered Grief (living with Loss while others are celebrating) book and other reading material. I just can't have anyone sitting where he should be.

  2. My table is round so I put my laptop where he used to sit. I also turn on the TV news just so it isn't so quiet. I haven't yet been able to eat on the deck which is what we always did in nice weather. You do what you have to do.

  3. I started sitting at his place so I didn't have to look at it empty. It's also symbolic: I'm the reluctant head of a household of one now.

  4. I have a hard time sitting at the dining table alone. I eat in front of the tv, which I didn't allow while the kids were growing up or during meal times. Our bed is the worst. I have a hard time sleeping. After a year, I still cry at least 3 nights. I picture him there, me lying on his chest, laughing through the night, telling stories of the day. I talk to God but that human void is there. How does God fill it? Can He fill it all? I trust in Jesus that He will.

  5. Your remarks are so important, and they point out how an ordinary experience like mealtime or bedtime is now remarkably changed. We all deal with these changes, and respond to them differently. You've all recognized how significantly your daily routine has changed, and the hope-filled thing is that eventually you'll make other small changes that will help bring new meaning to that empty chair or empty bed. Sometimes, it's even ok to make a huge change, like buying a new bed, painting the bedroom, sleeping in a different room, or moving to a new house. Begin to pray about these changes and watch for God to give you some ideas about what to do. How God fills the void will be different for each one of us. Can He fill it all? as Lucy asked? He can, and He will. But God is gentle with us and doesn't force our fingers to unclutch the things we're holding so tightly. Step by step, as we begin to let go bit by bit, we learn to trust Him again.

  6. We got out of the habit of eating together as a family long before my husband passed away because most times he was too tired to eat at reasonable hours. When he did get up to eat something it was usually while the children were gone or asleep. The children and I got into the habit of fixing our plates and eating in the living room. Often when my husband ate, I would sit across the table from him while he ate his meal. It took a long time for me to deal with that empty chair. Now that he's gone, the children and I still eat in the living room and the dining room table has become the study, mail, junk table. I know use his chair as my "office" chair. I hadn't really thought much about it until I read this post.


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