Monday, June 29, 2015

What to Do With The Empty Place

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.

4th of July might be your empty place this year. Have you made plans for the day? Even planning to take the day off and do nothing will be more helpful than finding yourself feeling left out. Take a few moments today to decide something. And don't feel discouraged if everyone seems to be busy. This is your training wheel time, and next year will be better if you learn from this.

For me, that empty chair had to be filled with guests. That was hard to do, especially with the crazy schedules people keep--families seldom eat together anyway. A lot of people told me "can't." But I enjoyed the ones who could come on rare occassions. I learned that God commanded us to practice hospitality as much for our own sake as for another's. For the rest of the time I relaxed the standard of us all having dinner together. I went 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.

Hang on to this roller coaster ride through grief, my sister! With God, good things can still happen.
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. I Peter 4:9


  1. After I was widowed I sought out my empty chairs, those places where I felt Sharon should be, when I found one I’d stay with it and let my grief come to the surface, until eventually the empty chair became just another bit of furniture, although sometimes echoes of the emptiness still come back.

    When you’ve got the emotional energy to face them head on your empty chairs can be tools in your grieving. They are landmarks in a confusing landscape of pain, they give you a sense of where you are as they hurt less, or more, or just differently. Walk away from them or fill them when you can’t or don’t want to face the pain; but when you’re feeling stronger, you can go to them, look into the emptiness and say some of your goodbyes.

  2. Beautifully stated. Thank you, and I'm so sorry for your loss but so glad you took the time to share your thoughts and experience.


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