Liahona
Mom’s Empty Chair

“Mom’s Empty Chair,” Liahona, April 2021

Latter-day Saint Voices

Mom’s Empty Chair

Each Sunday in Relief Society, my mother always sat in the same place on the front row.

Chair

Photograph from Getty Images

My husband and I lived in the same ward as my angel mother. Each Sunday, as a member of the Relief Society presidency, I sat at the front of the Relief Society room, facing the sisters. My mother always sat in the same place on the front row.

I enjoyed watching her responses to the lessons and hearing her comments. After each meeting, she kissed my cheek and squeezed my hand. My mother and I were close, so it broke my heart when she passed away unexpectedly.

After her funeral, my emotions remained tender. When Sunday arrived, my husband asked if I would be all right attending church without him. His calling often took him away from our ward.

“I will be all right until I see Mom’s empty chair,” I said. “I don’t know if I can see that empty chair and keep my emotions under control.”

My husband suggested that I try not to look at the chair. I decided to do my best.

Everyone at church was supportive and loving. When it came time to go to Relief Society, I took my seat at the front of the room, but I kept my eyes on the floor.

As the lesson began, however, I couldn’t help but look toward my mother’s usual spot. I expected to see her empty chair, but instead I saw my ministering sister sitting in her place. She smiled at me. I felt relief and gratitude for her kindness. I was able to get through the meeting without being overcome by grief. After the meeting I thanked her.

“Seeing Mom’s empty chair was the one thing I knew I couldn’t handle today. How did you know?” I asked her.

“When I walked into the room today, I had a feeling that seeing her empty chair would be hard for you,” she replied. “So I decided to sit there.”

This kind act meant more to me than she knew. I am thankful she was in tune with the Spirit’s prompting. I know that even small acts can have a healing effect on those we minister to. I believe this is how the Savior would have us minister to each other.