LAURINBURG – A gathering at Northview Harvest Ministries gave more than 300 families who have lost someone in the last year a chance to honor and remember their loved ones.
The Scotland Regional Hospice’s annual candlelight memorial was held Thursday night for families and friends from Scotland, Hoke, Robeson, Richmond, Dillon, Marlboro and Chesterfield counties – counties served by Hospice− to participate in the service.
The event offered grieving friends and relatives a chance at closure, a chance to talk to the staff who cared for their relatives in their last days, and an opportunity to talk with others who may have faced similar situations.
“We have had several family members in the past let us know that they enjoyed the service and that it was good to be able to talk to and see people involved in the care of their loved one,” said Charlotte Hatcher, a Hospice employee. “My mother and grandmother were patients, and it does help to get some closure.”
Some family members felt the same way. Kim Sheppard who lost her brother Philip to pancreatic cancer in September is grateful for Hospice’s care for her brother and his family and for the opportunity to participate in the memorial.
“With something like this, you know they are gone, but there’s still a little piece of them left that you get to honor,” Sheppard said. “It’s a sad loss but also a happy loss to know that once your loved one has been to Hospice, Hospice doesn’t stop there. There’s still a devotion they have toward the families and the lost loved ones.”
This ceremony is not the only way in which Hospice helps grieving relatives. Anyone who has lost someone in Hospice care can reach out to the organization for help coping.
Staff bereavement counselor Tanya Williams or Chaplin Allen Winters are available to talk to family even after the patient has passed on, according to Hatcher.
The service began with quiet instrumental music while a slide show displayed photos and names of approximately 354 lost between October 2017 and October 2017.
Pastor Kenneth Blease gave the opening invocation and read from Psalm 100.
Elizabeth Anderson, associate minister of Jones Chapel Missionary Baptist Church delivered the message. She told the mourners that despite the fact that they had lost someone, God had still smiled on them.
“He smiled on us because we’ve been through something together. Some have left us this year and our heart grieves, but God has smiled on us he will never leave us or forsake us,” Anderson said.
She told the families that grief and pain were natural responses to loss but encouraged them not to forsake others in their grief.
“In your grief stay connected; talk to someone. Stay connected to those who were around you to saw you through this loss,” Anderson said. “Don’t let pain and grief overwhelm you because it can. You can grieve but not as those who don’t have hope. Remember the good things; laugh about the silly things you used to do and say together, and say God has smiled on me to give me this memory.”
Guest musician Dale LaRue Bailey sang “It is Well With my Soul,” in memory of his mother, Patricia Watson who was a patient of Hospice earlier this year. Hospice social worker Pennie Thomas sang “I’ll Light a Candle.”
During the candle lighting ceremony, the names of those lost were called out as a family member or representative stepped forward to light a candle in their memory.
After Hospice patients were honored, others in the audience who had lost someone were invited to come forward and light a candle regardless of whether they had received palliative care from Hospice.
After the observance, guests were served cake, coffee and punch by Bunny Hasty, a Hospice volunteer coordinator and a team of volunteers.
“About 20 of our hospice volunteers bake cakes each year and serve them during a reception that follows the service,” said Deon Cranford, Hospice public relations director.
This is the 25th year Hospice has held the service.
“The service acts as an opportunity for hospice staff to reunite with the families that they have served over the past year … many of our families develop very close relationships to their hospice caregivers, and when their loved one dies, many of those relationships continue on a more personal level,” Cranford said. “They love one another and watching them reunite at the Candlelight Memorial Service can be quite emotional. It’s almost like a family reunion.”
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169