The Empty Table
It's Thanksgiving. This table is used to be extended as far out as possible and often with a card table at one end to allow all the family to eat together. It's used to having place settings set-up for six, eight, or more people depending on who all could come. The house smelled delicious, the TV, if on, had either a parade on or a football game, and there was lots of commotion on getting everything ready for us all to sit and eat together.
This table is used to having us all sit around it playing a game of cards. My dad saying he isn't competitive and yet doing whatever he could to win. Us all laughing and playing several games in one sitting.
This table is used to having us gather around and sing happy birthday as it held the candlelit cake holding our birthday wishes.
This table is used to having art supplies on it, paints spilled and markers scuffed as the kids through the years made masterpieces that would eventually be displayed on the fridge.
This table has been the main gathering place for our family for many years. Last year, was the first year Thanksgiving wasn't held at this table. My mom was battling pneumonia in the hospital and we gathered at my sister's for dinner between playing tag on who would sit with mom at the hospital.
This year will be the first year this table sits bare as much has changed since my mom died last December. The table still exists, Mika is gone, the house is on the market, and things are moving forward. At first I looked at the bare table with sadness, and then I realized that it has so many beautiful memories ingrained into it's core, that while the naked eye may not see it, this table is overflowing with LOVE and memories.
While it's the first Thanksgiving without my mom. It's been many Thanksgivings that have brought us to this point. From when she did the vast majority of the cooking, to where we helped under her guidance, to where we (my sister/niece mostly) took over when she no longer could. The last few years she was unable to come to this table, so change was already happening. It was gradual, it was hard, AND it was filled with LOVE. I don't think I realized how much LOVE is wrapped into grief until this past year.
This year, I will be celebrating Thanksgiving with my nieces family, including her little's (an almost 3 year old and 5-year-old that I adore), my sister and her family (that I also adore). While it will be a different table, there will still be much LOVE around it creating new memories for my niece's table.
If you find yourself this holiday, or frankly anytime of year, at an empty table or there is an empty chair of someone you miss, I encourage you to:
Honor your feelings. Whether that person(s) isn't there due to death or distance, it is okay to miss them. It might be year 1 or year 10 of you missing them and that is okay. Grief isn't something to get over, it's something to live with and not let it LIVE you.
Honor the one(s) you are missing. If it feels right, put a place setting out for them. Talk about them. Talk TO them. Even if they are still alive and for some reason not part of your life, you can energetically talk to their soul. You can certainly talk to your LOVED ones now in the stars.
Volunteering. It's when we focus our attention on others that we realize being of service is truly just as much as being of service to ourselves.
Creating a new tradition. Sometimes we feel we have to do all the old traditions our LOVED one did, but I'm pretty sure they don't care anymore. If it's something you LOVE to do, continue on... but if it's something that adds to the heartache...move on and create new ones.
Being gentle with yourself. Know what works and what doesn't. In this last year, there are times that I needed to sit in my sadness alone. And then there has been other times I needed to talk to someone during my sadness. And there have been many times that I wanted to get together with friends to just have fun and not think about it too. Please know there has been lots and lots of times throughout the year I have been having so much fun. While grief is a thought away, laughter and fun are right there too. So ask yourself what YOU need and be okay with it. You will probably find it can change in a moments notice, and that is okay too.
Remembering they want you to be HAPPY. While they know that grieving is part of the process as they too have lost LOVED ones before. Ultimately, they want you to live truly, madly, deeply in their honor as they are watching. So go big!
Mostly, my wish for you is to know that missing someone means you LOVED deeply. They may not be physically in your life, yet their energy is just a thought away.
Until next time, I see you, I am with you, and you are so very LOVED.
Moment by moment, I choose LOVE.
Words to LOVE by:
“The best way out is always through.” – Robert Frost
“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.” – Anonymous
“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a LOVED one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.” – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Sounds for Your Soul: