An Empty Seat at the Table

For many people there will be an empty seat at the table this holiday. Contrary to all the perfect images of smiling families gathered around a perfect tree and feasting on delicious well-prepared food, grieving people often want the whole season to quickly move off the calendar. Simultaneously, they may also want time to stand still. The holiday season can signify the passing of time without the person so vital in their lives. In some cases, ringing in a new year, it is a stark reminder that they are saying goodbye to a lifetime once shared with another.

If you are around a grieving person this holiday season, gently check in with them. Support their desire to either express their grief or perhaps grieve privately. Instead of offering  unsolicited advice or platitudes, offer a hug. Write them a thoughtful note or give them a special gift.

If you are grieving, here is my personal recipe for inviting peace, compassion and understanding into the holiday season.

Give yourself a moment to step away – quiet time is grounding. What we may be feeling inside needs space to breathe away from the fanfare and hurried pace of the holidays.

Give your physical self what it needs – rest, balanced nutrition and staying hydrated can go a long way to help all the emotional work that is also going on.

Take a walk – alone or with an understanding companion. It’s a time to off-load any emotional build-up and connect with nature or a friend. Or both.

Light a candle – Consider traveling with a battery operated candle and keep it lit wherever you may be. It can be a reminder of the part of you that is especially sensitive and vulnerable at this time of year.

Call a friend – reaching out and across to your support team is vital. Let them make you laugh, let them hear you cry. Grief is a journey, we are all doing the best we can.

Do one thing that helps someone else – taking a moment to be of service to another not only shifts the focus of attention, but can also leave you feeling more connected. Be it the gift of a smile, a gesture of appreciation, a compliment or the gift of hearing another person’s story.

Give yourself and/or a grieving child a gift. – Living another year without your loved one is no small feat. It takes bravery. Giving a gift to a child honors their important grief work as well.”

Honor their light  –  Privately, ask the light and spirit of your loved one to illuminate the path for the new life you are creating.

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