The holidays are a great family time, but also a very poignant reminder if a family member has passed away during the year. Move toward healing this Christmas with suggestions and traditions that honor your loved one and also bring joy back into the season.
Losing a loved one--whether a spouse, parent, child, sibling, or friend--leaves people feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. Holidays and other special occasions seem to intensify the pain. Whether the occasion is Christmas or Easter, a birthday or anniversary, these celebrations force the bereaved to again face the reality of a loved one's absence.
Susan Zonnebelt-Smeenge and Robert C. De Vries know firsthand the sorrow of bereavement: Both lost a spouse. Yet as they faced their pain and gleaned insights from their professions--Susan is a psychologist, Robert, a minister--they found renewed richness on special days that once brought heartache.
In The Empty Chair, the authors share a comforting blend of emotional support, spiritual guidance, and personal experience to help readers honor their loved one on important days. Those who support the bereaved--mental-health professionals, pastors, funeral home staff, and others--will also appreciate this book for its reflective yet practical approach.
Susan J. Zonnebelt-Smeenge (R.N., Ed.D.) is a clinical psychologist at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services.
Robert C. De Vries (D.Min, Ph.D.) is professor of church education at Calvin Theological Seminary. They live in Grand Rapids, Michigan.