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Memorial service helps people coping with loss

Guitarist Sarah Gateman

Guitarist Sarah Gateman provided music for the memorial service.

Julian Trowbridge

Julian Trowbridge lights one of the candles of remembrance at the memorial service.

Christmas is a time of joy when people get together to celebrate with the ones they love.
For people who have suffered loss through the death of a loved one, the season can present challenges.
“Christmas time, especially the first Christmas, is often one of the hardest, most difficult times for those who have suffered loss,” Rev. Pilar Gateman said.
Christ Church Anglican in Fort Macleod hosted its annual Christmas Memorial Service on Dec. 15 to help people dealing with loss.
The service provided people with an opportunity to honour their loved ones, and to acknowledge their importance.
Rev. Gateman spoke of the difficulty that death presents at Christmas for both the loved ones and their friends.
“Some families who have suffered the death and loss of a loved one have mentioned to me that friends and acquaintances don‘t know what to say to them,” Rev. Gateman said. “They don’t know how to talk about the loved one who has died.”
“Often the loved one’s name is just left aside, and that can be a painful thing.”
Part of the memorial service was dedicated to honouring and acknowledging those people who have died.
People attending the service wrote the names of their deceased loved ones on pieces of paper at the start of the service.
Later, the names were read aloud to the people gathered in the peaceful setting of Christ Church Anglican.
“It’s really important to hear the name and to acknowledge that that person is important,” Rev. Gateman said.
Guitarist Sarah Gateman provided music at the start of the memorial service, followed by an aboriginal prayer by Kame Staples.
The liturgy of remembrance included the lighting of four candles by Julian Trowbridge, Audrey Parnham, Ronda Reach Joanne Parnham and Alan Parnham.
People in the audience also lit candles in remembrance of their loved ones who have died.
The service ended with closing remarks from Rev. Gateman and the ringing of the church bell.
“I encourage you to be easy on yourself this season,” Rev. Gateman said. “Sadness and tears are normal and they are not going to ruin your holiday.”
“At the same time you don’t need to feel guilty if you find yourself enjoying some of the festivities,” Rev. Gateman added.
Pastoral care and refreshments were available following the memorial service.