Luminary event helps families copePublished 5:58pm Sunday, December 9, 2012
Families and friends gathered to remember and cope Saturday evening for the first annual luminary remembrance service, hosted by Brown Funeral Home in Niles.
The service, which welcomed families of lost loved ones within the past year, was organized to help grievers find peace, hope and support as they approach the first major holiday without their loved one.
Owner and operator Tim Brown said the event was set up in a way that visitors could remember those that passed and also recognize that its OK to grieve during the holiday. With the help of musicians from Andrews University and the Rev. Jan Van Lear, families received a message of hope.
“We knew that during the holidays, families who have experienced loss have a difficult time,” Brown said. “We made it a community event.”
Each family member received a candle, which was lit during the service. After Van Lear delivered her message, families were also able to take home a Christmas ornament adorned with their loved one’s name and a feather inside.
“We call it a feather from their angel,” Brown said. “We want them to know they have support here and it’s OK to not have to fake it.”
Bill of rights
Van Lear led the service with a reading of the poem “Christmas in Heaven” and the event programs also included a “Grievers Holiday Bill of Rights,” which explained that those grieving a loss have the right to stray from tradition during the holidays if they want to.
Among those who attended the service, Carolyn Gorham, of Cassopolis, said she first saw the invitation and thought it was something she wanted to attend. Gorham lost her husband, Richard, on April 25.
“I thought it sounded like a wonderful way to remember him,” Gorham said. “The lights outside (luminaries) were so heartwarming.”
Gorham said that the service would help her remember Richard and all the memories.
“We had 58 years together,” Gorham said tearfully. “We got to travel and do so many things, and I’m
glad we did those things.”
Brown said that the service would hopefully help families find some type of support if needed.
“We try to remind them that their loss is a journey and the funeral is the start of that journey,” Brownsaid. “We’re here through that journey.”