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How can I get through the empty chair at Thanksgiving?

Updated: Jan 17, 2020

How can I get through the empty chair at Thanksgiving? was the title of the article by Clara Hinton for our November meeting. In her article Clara talks about the overwhelming heaviness she feels each year as the holidays approach. It has been five years since she lost her son suddenly - "five years since I have seen him. Five years since I've heard his voice. Five years since I've given him a hug. Five years."

She talks about the empty chair and how it is a "face-on reminder" of the child who will not be here for the holidays. "How does any parent make it through the holidays without their child?" Clara has found some things that help her during the holiday season and I hope they will help you as well:

1. Don't pretend that everything is Okay. It's okay not to be okay. Refuse to pretend that it's all okay, because as we all know it isn't.

2. Mention your child's name often. It helps to hear your child's name.

3. Do something in memory of your child. Some of the things Clara has done to remember her son, Mike, are a special Christmas tree decorated with ornaments of things that held special meaning to him, a special candle lighting service, and sharing stories about Mike (usually funny). All of these things incorporate Mike in the holiday and help him feel nearer and it brings the family closer together.

This year I published a book about my daughter's life, Remembering Terri. I gave each family member a personalized copy of Terri's book as a Christmas present. We spent time browsing through the book and recalling Terri stories. It was the best Christmas for me since my daughter passed away five years ago.

4. Don't be afraid to have laughter at your holidays. Your child does not want you to be sad all the time so make joy a part of your holiday.

What have you planned for your child this holiday season? Please share with us.

Janice Steele

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