Empty Chairs at Empty Tables

Lisa Holt
Lisa Holt

The holidays are the happiest yet also the saddest time of year.  For most, the holidays bring families together to celebrate another year, to partake in traditions, to laugh and rejoice.  But for some, the loss of a loved one is made more pronounced by those same traditions and celebrations; the wounds left by their passing are opened up again and are just as raw and just as painful as they were when the loved one left this world.  In Central Louisiana, we have lost so many young people this year.  This kind of loss is one I will never understand, nor can I begin to imagine what the parents and families of those young people will have to endure this season.  Others have lost parents, spouses, and other family members.  Some are more recent, others in years past. Regardless of the length of time, their chairs are still empty.


Claude-Michel Schönberg and Herbert Kretzmer wrote a hauntingly beautiful song for Les Miserables called “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”.  Some of the lyrics express better than my words ever could, the pain of loss:

“There’s a grief that can’t be spoken
There’s a pain goes on and on
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my friends are dead and gone.

Here it was they lit the flame
Here they sang about ‘tomorrow’
And tomorrow never came 

Oh my friends, my friends, forgive me
That I live and you are gone.
There’s a grief that can’t be spoken
There’s a pain goes on and on. 

Phantom faces at the window
Phantom shadows on the floor
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friends will meet no more.”


There have been a few empty chairs at our table for several years. Though we have lost some, I know they will be sitting at another table, a table much grander than any I could set.   And they would want us to rejoice in the lives that they lived, not be saddened by the emptiness of their chairs.