Posted by Quokkagirl
Each Christmas I, like many other celebrants, am asked if I will ‘do a reading’ at memorial services which funeral directors provide for their past clients. Being the secular contingent of the service, it’s usually a painful and time-consuming trawl through the poetry books to find something remotely suitable and relevant. There is no question that religion has already bagged the best words and rituals……….so far. I believe this is why they continue to have the upper hand at times of great joy, grief and uncertainty – all the big rites of passage. There is no good alternative source of material and ritual guidance – yet.
There is a vast expanse of space waiting to be filled in this field. Thankfully, most of the changes are being led by emotionally intelligent and honest challengers of the old ways. In time, maybe we will find that good writing emerges, with decent funereal readings to support the newly emerging rituals and appropriate literature expressing the human experience of grief as a quality alternative to the traditional.
I don’t know about you, but for me, when I think of the first Christmas after a death, the single most poignant symbol that we are one less on The Day is the Empty Chair. The chair your Mum or Dad always sat in when they visited, or the position at the Christmas table that your husband or wife always occupied. Or the spare stool that your brother, sister, aunt or uncle always perched on precariously. I have been searching for a really good ‘empty chair’ poem/reading for a long time without success.
When I do find the words which encapsulate that awful feeling of ‘one missing’, and how to draw some comfort from it, I will share them. If you find them, please share them with me.
Until then, for all those of you facing the prospect of an empty chair this Christmas, I hope you will find some Peace from your grief, and Joy from your memories.