Three services upcoming to remember lost loved ones

Published 9:38 pm Monday, December 4, 2017

The holidays are a time of celebration, but for many they are also a time to remember our loved ones who are no longer with us.

Locals will have the opportunity to remember lost loved ones together at three upcoming services.

Angel of Hope

On Dec. 6, parents will gather to remember their children at the Angel of Hope Memorial Service at the Angel of Hope statue beside WellStar West Georgia Medical Center.

This will be the 12th year that the Angel of Hope service has taken place in LaGrange, since the statue was dedicated on Dec. 6, 2005.

“In 1994, my husband and I lost triplets, and that Christmas I read a book called ‘The Christmas Box’ by Richard Paul Evans,” said Kathy Reyes, who helped bring the angel to LaGrange. “In that book is an angel statue, and that is really where all of this came from is the book had a message on the outside of it, and it said that this book offered hope to those that are hopeless. We had lost our children in November, and it was the Christmas season, and I was struggling with trying to get through the Christmas season.”

In the book, a woman finds comfort in visiting an angel statue to remember her daughter. When Reyes began researching purchasing an angel statue to give herself a place to remember her children, it quickly became apparent that she was not the only one who needed it. The angel was meant to be shared, so the statue was purchased with donations from the community and WellStar West Georgia allowed the statue to be placed on the hospital’s grounds so that it would be accessible to those who need it.

“The angel is dedicated to the memory of children that have passed away, and it is not just about babies,” Reyes said. “It is about adult children. It is a place for parents to go and remember their children of any age.”

There are more than 120 Christmas Box Angel statues around the world according to Evans’ website, and a ceremony is held on Dec. 6 at all of the statues in order to bring together those who have lost a loved one.

“It’s very comforting to know that you are not by yourself because there are other people at that service who have experienced the same loss as you, so it is a good service for the whole community as a whole,” Reyes said. “There are people there who have lost children like us to being born too soon, to accidents, to illness, to suicide.”

Leigh Taylor, one of the original founders of the service, has organized and will lead this year’s service.

The service will take place on Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. at 1514 Vernon Road. The Angel of Hope statue is located on the Vernon Road side of WellStar West Georgia Medical Center, near hospice. The service takes place on the same day every year, rain or shine.

Compassionate Friends

Locals will also have the opportunity to remember those loved ones together on Dec. 11 at Advent Lutheran Church in LaGrange. The annual holiday service of remembrance was started by a support group for bereaved parents more than 30 years ago and has since expanded to include all of those who have experienced loss.

“The Compassionate Friends met once a month, and it was bereaved families, bereaved parents,” said Mike Pauley, who will serve as the featured speaker at this year’s event. “People would just get in, and they would support each other. How they were dealing with their child’s death. Things that they were going through. It was certainly just people listening, but it was also people sharing inspiration and faith stories, I’m sure. Then what happened was they decided to have a Christmas service, and it was in memory of the children.”

This year will be the first year that a sibling will speak on their loss, though many parents are still expected to be in attendance at the service, which is open to the public.

“We want them to know that we want to honor their child and honor life, and they are welcome,” Pauley said. “If you know someone who would benefit, that would like to celebrate their child at this time, please tell them about the service because we’ve never had someone show up at the service and were not glad they came.”

Local singer Kevin Dunn is scheduled to perform.

The service is scheduled to take place on Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at Advent Lutheran Church at 1416 Vernon Road. Anyone who would like to remember a lost loved one is invited to attend.

Longing for Light in the Darkness

Finally, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church of LaGrange will host a service titled Longing for Light in the Darkness on Dec. 13. This will be the fourth year that the service of rememberance has been held at St. Mark’s.

“I think people don’t feel so alone in the middle of the difficulties that come with the holidays (when they attend the service), and it kind of brings some of the difficulties of life into focus even though, for many of us it is a way to kind of escape from that,” Pastor Allen Pruitt said.

“For other people, it is a reminder of loss and the things that they haven’t been able to do or the people that they can’t see, and so I don’t know that the service makes things easier, but it does help people to feel connected and joined with not only God, but also the people around them who have experienced similar feelings.”

According to Pruitt, there is usually a crowd at the service, but the church would continue to hold the service even if there were only a few people.

“Even if we had many fewer people in attendance (we would hold it), but the effect that it does have on those who do come is worth the efforts to put on a service like this for folks who need it,” Pruitt said.

The service is scheduled to take place on Dec. 13 at 5:30 p.m. at 207 North Greenwood Street.

*** The LaGrange Daily News incorrectly listed details of a service in the Dec. 4 edition of the paper. Those details have been corrected online and are also listed in this story.