Dealing with the Holidays: Set an Extra Chair

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner

The Thanksgiving – Christmas holiday season is almost always really tough for those suffering loss.

These are family times, filled with family traditions, family gatherings, and family memories.  So a loss, whether it’s a death, broken relationships, a critical illness, a job loss, or something else, sticks out like a sore thumb.  It’s painful for everyone involved.

Part of the pain is the awkwardness of family gatherings.  The old normal is gone.

Often it’s hard for everyone involved to know how to handle the time together.  Do you risk bringing everyone down by talking about it?  Or do you just try to ignore that something has happened in hopes that you can get through the time together?

What do you do with the elephant in the middle of the room?

Everyone has to do what works for them and their family dynamics.  But here are a couple of ideas to get you started thinking about it:

  • Some friends of ours set an extra two chairs at their Thanksgiving table, one for a dad who had recently passed, and one for a mom in the final stages of Alzheimer’s.  It’s their way of acknowledging the losses while asserting their continuing presence in spirit.
  • We have made expressing some words of thanks for our parents who have gone on ahead a part of our own family Thanksgiving tradition.  It’s our way of acknowledging their continuing importance to our family.

I bet some of you have developed your own ways to deal with this time.  It would be great if you’d share them in the comments.

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