The Holidays and the Empty Chair

I returned to my office recently and found a magazine sitting on my desk opened to an article about a man who had lost his 20-year-old son.  Our son was 19 when we lost him. 

There were a number of statements I highlighted.  But, the man’s closing words said this:

“What we’ve found hardest are the days that are supposed to bring great joy.  Our daughter got married recently, which was a wonderful, beautiful occasion. But we were so aware that our son was not present.”

Strangely, I had just shared this exact dynamic with a friend last week.

Like the man in the article, we also have a daughter who was married recently to a wonderful man.  When we gather for holidays it’s certainly a beautiful and fun experience.  But, what my family didn’t anticipate was how those gatherings of family and friends throw a spotlight onto the fact that our son, Jordan, is not there.  Sure, we are laughing with everyone and enjoying the time together.  Yet, there have been moments we found Jordan’s “empty chair” too heavy to bear, having to retreat to a bedroom and have a good cry.

Telling a family who’s lost a child, “But, look at all that you have,” is something you just should keep to yourself.  We are well aware of what we have.

There are dynamics of pain one can know only from experience.  If you’ve not experienced what we’ve experienced it is impossible for you to understand.

That said, as Paul wrote, we

“grieve but not as those who have no hope.” 

The man in the article continues,

“In moments like these, we’ve tried to celebrate, looking ahead with confidence that there will be a day when all our tears are dried.”

To all who will be experiencing an “empty chair” during this holiday season, know this:

“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted, and he saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Jesus comforted Martha,

“I am the Resurrection and the Life.  He who believes in me, even though he dies, yet shall he live.” 

Because of the Cross and the Empty Tomb, our loved ones are more alive than they’ve ever been.  And a reunion is coming.

I thank you, Almighty Christ, for dying for us so that our loved ones might live, and that we will one day be with them again, in your glorious presence.  Forever.

Tell Jordan hello for us and that, in time, we’ll hold him again.