The holidays are a special time for families to come together and enjoy each other’s company, but for many people, the holidays can be a difficult time as they start to look around the dinner table and notice a few extra empty spaces.
Tuesday, Dec. 9, Hospice of Marshall County — Shepherd’s Cove took some time to remember all of those people in our life who will be missing this holiday season at its sixth annual Lights of Love Ceremony.
The ceremony was open to all of those in the community who wanted to honor the lives of their lost loved ones.
More than 100 people stood on the front lawn on HMC during the ceremony on the chilly December evening.
In the weeks prior to the ceremony, donations were collected from people around the community in honor of their friends and family members who had died.
The names of the deceased were then added to a roster, which was read aloud during the ceremony, and a video slideshow.
Then a light was placed in their memory on the large cypress tree in the yard in front of the hospice building.
HMC was able to raise money through the event by selling ornaments and memory cards in addition to the more than 250 lights, which were purchased to go on the tree. More than $12,000 was collected through the event for the hospice.
Once the names of those whose memory was being honored were read aloud, the Albertville High School VocalEase group led the crowd in singing Christmas carols. This all led up to the lighting of the large tree.
“This is our sixth year doing it, and it’s really a combination event to serve as a time of remembrance, as part of the grief journey for people who have lost someone and as a fundraiser — because we are a nonprofit — to help us provide our unreimbursed care and bereavement programs,” said Rhonda Osborne, CEO of Hospice of Marshall County.
HMC Fund Development Specialist Annah Grace Morgan said the Lights of Love Ceremony is about more than just raising money. It’s a celebration of all those in the community the hospice has served.
“It’s absolutely a celebration of life, and it’s something we enjoy doing,” Morgan said. “It sometimes helps to do something for those people that you love at the holidays, whether it’s in honor or in memory of them. It helps to be able to remember their legacy, see their name on the screen or be able to hear their name called out over the speaker. It’s special, and it helps them to still be a part of the holidays.”
Osborne said the ceremony resonates with her specifically because she has been undergoing her own personal grief journey this year, as well.
The ceremony is a great way for HMC to connect with the people of the community they serve, Osborne said.
“It’s really a blessing for our staff to get to know these folks,” she said. “We get to share with them, and honor the light that their loved one shared in their life.”