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Annual service remembers loved ones

By Alicia B. Hill

alicia.hill@lagrangenews.com

LaGRANGE – Those who leave us are never truly gone, but their absence is felt the strongest during the holidays, making those moments of memory especially important.

The Advent Lutheran Church of LaGrange plans to host the 30th annual memorial service for children on December 12 to remember lost loved ones during the holiday season.

“It actually was formed to include our loved ones in Christmas,” said organizer Mary Pauley.  “… So that we felt that we could get on with our Christmas celebration if we’d honored them first.”

Pauley said that previous years have had high turnout for the service, and she hopes that anyone in the community who is experiencing grief and loss will feel welcome at the service.

“We are doing it as a community service, and we want to have a little bit more openness about it, and we’d like to make sure that people know about it,” said Pauley.  “… (It’s) just a memorial service to remember our children.”

The memorial’s organizers have suffered the loss of children and grandchildren from newborns to adults, from reasons ranging from cancer to car accidents, and they all have found solace in the community at the service.

“It’s also good to share with people who know what you’re going through… or what you have gone through,” said Eadie Stewart, who remembers her son at the annual service.

Organizers invite anyone of any denomination to remember their loved ones at the service, and though the organizers’ primary focus is their children who have moved on, everyone who has lost family and friends is invited to remember them at the service.

“It’s just a real good time to honor your loved ones,” said J. D. Stewart.

The service was originally held as a service for the Compassionate Friends grief group and has expanded over time to include more of the community.

“It began in 1986,” said Pauley.  “And we first started it out at the First Presbyterian Church, and then we held it a couple of times at the Trinity Methodist Church, and now it’s been here (at Advent Lutheran Church).  This year will be the 30th annual meeting.”

The service is held on the second Monday of December every year.  It was initially held in the third week of December, but it was moved back to the second week to make it easier for attendees to get to the service during the busy holiday season.

“So we start out with just the usual welcome that we used from the Compassionate Friends group,” said Pauley.  “We kind of just keep that scripted, and then introduce our special music and then our speaker.”

Organizers say the service will last about 30 minutes with music and a speaker followed by refreshments.  This year, Paul Hyatt is expected to sing for the service with accompaniment by Sue Summerour on the piano.

The service is scheduled for Monday, December 12 at 6:30 p.m. at Advent Lutheran Church, 1416 Vernon Road.