Kara's Column > Empty Chair, Tiny Stocking
originally published December 2002
Part of the on-going loss after the death of a loved one, is the continued silence and invisibility that is created as we get further and further away from the date of death. I challenge all of you this holiday season to create tangible expressions for giving voice and visibility to your loss, grief, healing, and to the empty space left by the loved one who has died.
If family members or friends or even care givers wince or whine at your tangible expressions, I enourage you to push back and tell them that these expressions are not obsessive, but conscious decisions to keep the memory of *all* family members alive on this Earth. After all, what is Christmas if you are Christian? Celebrating the life of a man who has been dead a couple thousand years, aye? Well, then why can't you celebrate your dead child's life and memory? If you are not Christian, then I encourage you to celebrate with whatever your traditions may be -- seasonal Winter Solstice, Jewish Chanukah, African Kwanzaa -- all of which involve lighting candles, honoring survival, cherishing the *whole* family.
How? Well, let me offer a few suggestions:
Whatever your traditions, I put forth here that it is most healthy and wholistic to create tangible celebrations that include *all* your loved ones, living and dead. I encourage you to have some of those celebrations in the form of the written word, because that leaves those tangible notes and papers for re-reading tomorrow or the day after or in the New Year. Just like you will have photos of the living family members from this holiday season. The pieces of paper on which you write about your dead loved one will be available for perusal and review throughout the year.
And it can't be a bad thing to move the holiday focus away from consumerism and more toward something heartfelt and meaningful for everyone!
Miracles to you and yours this season.
Kara L.C. Jones is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University where she honed her poetic craft under the mentorship of Jim Daniels. Her poetic and non-fiction works have been included in publications such as New Works Review, PoetsWest, Real Henna, Shared Heart Foundation's "Meant To Be", LightHearts Publication's "Soul Trek", MISSing Angels Newsletter, American Tanka, Mother Tongue Ink's We'Moon, Honored Babies, Cup of Comfort series, and more. Because she refused to give her grief writing over to the control of outside editors and publishers after the death of her son, she and her husband Hawk founded KotaPress in 1999 as a creative outlet for their expressive artworks. She has been facilitating online and in-person workshops for over 10 year, including sessions offered at the International MISS Conferences, WA State Poets Association Burning Word festivals, and Course Bridge.