Losing a loved one is never easy. Grief is a natural part of the process – a process that cannot be rushed or forced. While everyone grieves differently and on different time frames, it can be helpful to understand the complexities of grief and how to help shape it into a healthy experience.
This articles discusses dealing with grief that comes from the loss of someone in your household, providing insights about the process and encouraging a healthy approach that can help you find solace – without losing yourself to endless sadness.
The Empty Chair – a Symbolic Reminder
The empty chair is often used to symbolize the tangible devastation of dramatic change. Losing someone that you live with – whether it’s a partner, parent, or friend – can be a traumatic experience because these close-contact relationships often shape our everyday experiences.
That person who you’re used to sharing a significant amount of time with – preparing meals together, watching television, cleaning the house, caring for pets, grocery shopping, etc. – is suddenly gone. The emptiness that follows is dangerous because it is seemingly always present. The everyday routines of life cannot continue in the same manner. In a sense, life gets put on pause. That empty chair – the physical absence of a loved one – serves as a constant reminder of the emotional loss.
Change Does Not Mean Forgetting
Grieving losses like these are particularly difficult because you’re forced to change your routines. And that change can sometimes feel like a betrayal of the deceased. For example, no one is allowed to sit in that recliner, because it was your loved one’s favorite chair. Or, the dishes have to be stacked in a certain way, because that’s how your loved one liked it. When your loved one is no longer there, it’s common to cling to the routines and details that you associate with them.
Even though changing these everyday routines can feel like a betrayal – or a willingness to forget that person – letting these details dictate your life is unhealthy. It’s important to recognize that change is a part of life. And it’s very possible to make changes little by little – without forgetting your loved one.
Adapting to the New Normal
This is where intentional change becomes important. When it comes to grieving a loved one, having something to hold onto can be an essential part of the grieving process. These keepsakes help us keep their memory alive and often provide consolation and comfort. Instead of letting the everyday details of the home serve as a memorial, be intentional about preserving your loved one’s memory.
A great way to do this is by creating a special area in the home that’s dedicated to the loved one’s memory. Find a special cremation urn for their ashes and create a unique display for it. Many artisan urns have glossy ceramic finishes, abstract shapes, spaces for votive candles, and beautiful colors to choose from. Picking a unique handmade urn design that feels like it fits your loved one’s personality can be a great first step towards acceptance, memory, and change.
Grief is a complex emotion. By making intentional choices to memorialize your loved one, you can move past the trauma of the empty chair and gradually make progress towards acceptance – and the continuation of life!
It's essential to remember that everyone's grief journey is unique, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Trust yourself, be gentle with yourself, and reach out for support when needed.
Our team created a useful guide with organisations, agencies and funeral homes who can be of great help when going through this sad moment.