“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.
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.