Four Empty Chairs

four empty chairs

Do you have four empty chairs at your dining table?

Looking back, I have spent my adult life ensuring there was always someone, usually a husband, at my table. That equates to a lifetime of care-giving, and self-sacrifice.

Moving Forward

To move forward, we have to face our fears, and that includes our grief.

Are you afraid:

  • The grief will be so bad, that you’ll never stop crying
  • If you feel less grief, it means you don’t care anymore
  • Sudden, unexpected showers of tears will rain down
  • The grief will worsen if you let your emotions loose

Let me reassure you that grief is the normal reaction to loss. It can be unsettling, but it isn’t something to fear. However, if you have been diagnosed with clinical depression, you must see a licensed therapist.

Let’s Address the Fears

Crying is a way to release tension, anxiety, and grief. So that means, you will stop and feel better when it’s over. Grief doesn’t follow a prescribed pattern. It’s like a roller coaster of emotions, including extreme sadness and joy. It’s okay to laugh.

When grief starts to lose its grip, it doesn’t mean you don’t care. Rather, it means you are starting to heal. This is cause for celebration. And any judgment from others is not welcome. Nor should it be tolerated.

I’m afraid I’ll start crying in public! Well, that’s exactly what happened to me. I was conducting a Garden Tour at Bok Tower Gardens. It was at the end as I talked about the ironwork on the bridges across the moat. The memory of my father, who was a blacksmith, overpowered me. Thankfully, I was facing away from the tour group. Closing my eyes, I took a couple of slow breaths in and out. Then I finished the tour. Four people stayed behind to hug me and reassure me they understood. And it was also a wake-up call. I knew I needed help to heal my grief. I’m very emotional and still tear up at inopportune moments. But I have never felt bad about it. It’s just how I am.

When you express your grief and pain as deeply as you can, it not only allows healing, but it can even make it possible to switch your emotion from feeling sadness to reliving a joyful moment you shared with your loved one.

In Parting

You might find it helpful to set an empty chair at your table during this holiday season. Perhaps add a place card with their name and a favorite photo. Recalling fun times with your loved one might break the tension. And if someone starts crying, let them finish. Then, give them a reassuring hug.

I’d love to hear one of your cherished memories in the comments.

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