The Empty Chair

Handling Grief on Holidays and Special Occasions

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How to handle holidays and special occasions without your loved one.

Whether you've lost a spouse, parent, child, friend, or sibling, The Empty Chair invites you to journey through grief toward life-giving healing. You'll learn how to incorporate new traditions on special days like anniversaries and birthdays, create memorials that honor and affirm your loved one's life, rebuild your individual sense of identity, and more. Most of all, you'll discover a new sense of joy that can become a special part of future holidays.



This book's title will start the helping process. Grieving souls will open their eyes hopefully when they see graphic acknowledgment that holidays are rough times after loss. Susan and Robert write from their first-hand experience, offering help and hope for all who face the holidays anxiously because a special loved one is absent. Pastors should read this book. It will modify their preaching and become a valued gift to struggling recoverers. --James R. Kok, director, International Conference on Care and Kindness

The metaphor of a raging fire aptly describes the feelings of grief after a death. The authors carry the metaphor throug hthe phases of grief effectively and it will be a useful tool for the bereaved. The action suggestions are quite helpful and provide a concrete focus by which the griever can address aspects of the holidays. The meditations at the end of chapters act as a healing balm. --Dr. John Morgan, director of King's College Centre for Education about Death and Bereavement

I have observed literally hundreds of families experiencing the intense wound of grief during the holidays, many from a distance and some painfully close. The authors impart a wisdom found not only in their intellects but captured in the priceless experiences of their hearts. --Martin L. Hollebeek, past president, Michigan Funeral Directors Association

In The Empty Chair, I found the approach to the subject of facing "special times" without a loved one refreshing and very helpful. The organization of the chapters by
introduction, action, reflection, and prayer was a unique and useful way to assist in managing one's grief during a very difficult time. The authors have created a book that will help guide grieving persons through this terrible ordeal. I also found the appendix regarding a Candle Lighting Memorial very helpful.
--Ron E. Wilder, president, Association for Death Education and Counseling

The Authors

  1. Susan J. Zonnebelt-Smeenge R.N., Ed.D

    Susan J. Zonnebelt-Smeenge R.N., Ed.D

    Susan J. Zonnebelt-SmeengeRN, EdD, is a licensed clinical psychologist now in private practice in Marietta, Georgia. She worked at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for over 20 years. She speaks...

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  2. Robert C. De Vries

    Robert C. De Vries

    Robert C. De Vries, DMin, PhD, is professor emeritus of church education at Calvin Theological Seminary and an ordained pastor. He speaks nationally to churches, community groups, and professional organizations and facilitates a variety of...

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