The empty chair.

Most families have one, physically or or in spirit.

At this time of year when we gather to celebrate and give thanks, the crowd and the noise amplify the silence of the loved one that is missing.

Like an old wound reopened the pain once forgotten now hijacks our happy thoughts.

Whether the space was created from loss of life or loss of relationship, the pain can often overshadow the joy of being with those who are present.

I remember a time when neither the food or the company surrounding me could capture my attention. I was so lost in a deep, dark place that emptiness described far more than the chair.

It is hard to be present when you bear more resemblance to a zombie than your true self.

As much as I knew I was not myself during that time , I regret more not being present for the loved ones that surrounded me.

If you are experiencing something similar this year, I invite you to join me in the lessons I learned as we Come to the Table.

Celebrating love through the pain of loss-

Acknowledge the joy and the good times you shared.

Pain is inevitable, but dwelling on that alone diminishes the reason your loved one is missed.

Focus on building present relationships instead of mulling over regrets.

We all harbor a list of “what if’s”. They are a powerful motivation to be more intentional with the people that are in our life. Don’t be afraid to let others be there for you.

Let your emotions be a conduit.

Learn how to express with words what you are feeling. Finding a good listener, or journaling through the pain will empower your future inner empathy.
And refusing to suppress your feelings will keep the zombie at bay.

Choose to celebrate life.

The greatest regret I have is the time that seemed to evaporate into nothingness.
I would never suggest pretending nothing ever happened or that feelings are not real. There is a time to mourn and a time to dance. Give ample time for each without neglecting one for the other.

Be aware of the needs of others.

It is easy to get caught up in our own little world when we are hurting. Look around and see who else may be hurting. Reach out and draw them in. (Think of what you need during this time and offer that – a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on…)

When you begin applying these lessons to your life, you will enjoy the season much more. I won’t promise it will be easy, but it will be worth it. You will build new memories, heal hearts and hold on to time honored traditions.
You will look back years from now and give thanks that you proactively participated.

The most important thing to remember during this time is why we have gathered together, what we are truly celebrating. Life will always contain pain and sorrow, this is even more reason to give yourself fully to the precious moments we have to give thanks for what and who we have in our lives. So bring your true authentic self and

Come to the table!