As the days get shorter approaching the winter solstice, we count on the holiday gatherings and the Christmas lights in our community to brighten up our lives. For many people, the parties and celebrations in this season are a poignant reminder of what has changed in the past year. Some of the people that have been part of our traditions are no longer here. What we think should be the “happiest time of the year” just seems all wrong.In order to give voice to the dissonance that people who are grieving feel, Barton Hospice hosted an Interfaith Outdoor ceremony Thursday evening called “Light up a Life.” This service was intended for anyone who is feeling the loss of a loved one, not just those who were served by hospice. This year the event was held at Inn by the Lake. Friends, families and loved ones gathered for music, mutual comfort and a time of remembrance. Rebecca Phillipsen, hospice social worker and counselor, reminded us that our individual stories have been enriched and informed by the people we have lost. Their influence continues. Chaplain Al Vacek gave a blessing for all the hands that cared for and held those who have died. Each participant spoke the name of their loved one as they lit a candle that represented the light those individuals shared. The lighting ceremony culminated with the illumination of a large Christmas tree to fill the last void of darkness. The mournful yet triumphant bagpipe music of Sean Cummings led the procession into the Inn for warming up with refreshments and shared stories.Hospice nurses and volunteers look forward to reminiscing with family members at this event, having shared intense and rich experiences together. One daughter wanted to express thanks to the nurse who had helped her understand the process of dying, thereby giving her the perspective and courage to be really present at the end of her mother’s life. She acknowledged that she had been dealing with the details of her mother’s estate and was now, months later, realizing her own loss and dealing with strong feelings. Knowing that hospice bereavement services are available for an extended time after the actual death gave this participant reassurance. She was also appreciative of the hospice newsletters that encourage her to take her grieving seriously and give it space.Barton Hospice has been serving South Lake Tahoe and the surrounding communities for over 35 years and considers itself privileged to have served literally thousands of individuals and families. Barton Hospice served close to 100 patients and their families in Tahoe area families this year. For, information, call 530-543-5581.
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