Empty Chair Syndrome: What Is it?

· June 15, 2016
While it’s normally associated with the death of a loved one, empty chair syndrome can also happen as a result of loneliness or abandonment.

Empty chair syndrome refers to the feeling that occurs when you lose someone special to you. It could be your partner, a friend, a brother or sister, and so on. 

It’s often confused with the sadness of losing someone in general, but it’s called empty chair syndrome because it takes on a special intensity when you should otherwise be celebrating and having fun.

Empty chair syndrome often shows up during the holiday season or on important dates, like Christmas, a birthday, or any other time that holds special significance for you.

You’ll see that one empty chair among everyone else and feel that empty space will make all the anguish and suffering feel fresh once again.

The empty chair is a silent witness

An empty chair is like the manifestation of what or who you were before and no longer are. It’s especially noticeable when you’re surrounded by other people, but suddenly realize that someone is missing.

lonely person sitting in chair
This strong feeling is part of the grieving process, something that you might have experienced before.

When you’re faced with the loss of someone you love you go through a period where you have to learn to live without that person. It’s a time of deep pain.

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The grief will continue until you’re able to deal with your loss and get back to your normal life without that awful feeling of emptiness.

It’s important to remember that empty chair syndrome can happen even if the person you’re missing is still alive. In other words, it can also happen as a product of an extreme feeling of loneliness.

You could also experience empty chair syndrome if someone leaves you or abandons you, though it’s most commonly associated with death.

When you feel unspeakably alone or lonely and it doesn’t matter how many people are around you, it might be empty chair syndrome.

You experience so much, but you’ll overcome it

Although you might only be able to see things through the lens of your sorrow, you still have to face important holidays and times like Christmas – there’s no way to ward off the pain. You have to get through the experience: it too will pass.

woman in field
To start with, try following the recommendations below. They might come in handy in the future:

Don’t isolate yourself, and don’t be silent

When you’re suffering from empty chair syndrome, you probably don’t want to talk about it, and might turn away from the people who sincerely want to help you. You choose to suffer in silence.

This is very unhealthy. Try your best to interact with other people even when you don’t feel like it, and don’t be afraid to seek help if necessary. Sometimes you just need another person to listen and pay attention to you.

Change the meaning of the empty chair

Things will always mean what you want them to mean. If your empty chair is synonymous with sadness and loss, why not give it a new meaning?

Take a closer look, try to eliminate the negative feelings that you’ve allowed it to take on. Make the chair your ally, not your enemy.

If necessary, ask for help

You might think you can handle anything and that if you don’t solve things on your own, no one will do it for you. But sometimes you need a little extra push or someone to help you move forward.

Don’t self-medicate as a way to alleviate the pain you have inside. The only “medication” you should take should be what your doctor recommends. Find other ways to deal with your sorrow.

You could always see a psychologist. These people are experts, professionals in things related to the mind. They’ll help you more than most other people can, and don’t be afraid to seek their help.

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butterflies and boat
It’s important to accept the fact that people are going to come and go from your life, one way or another.

Some people will pass away, others will leave you, and others might hurt you. There’s nothing you can do but accept that.

Don’t let an empty chair eliminate the joy that makes you feel alive.

There’s no doubt these situations will hurt: you’re human – you have feelings! But you must learn to accept that there are in life that are outside of your control. Accepting that is a big step to overcoming empty chair syndrome.