Planning the Perfect Memorial Candle Light Service

To bring into community grievers utilizing a ritual can be one of the most powerful and meaningful events of remembrance.  It can become a family tradition to honor their loved one during the holidays.  It can also allow the new griever community in letting them know they are not alone.

Comfort comes from knowing that people have made the same journey. And solace comes from understanding how others have learned to sing again   ~   Helen Steiner Rice

Typically, a setting would be lowered lights during the evening.  Your service can be simple or you can add unique options to tailor your service.  Community is what binds the soul.

Following are a few suggestions you may consider:

  • Offer a taper or individual candle to each family to light in remembrance.  Candles may have personalized ribbons or consider having the names imprinted.
  • Suggest they take the candle and light it in remembrance on special or difficult days throughout the coming year, Fathers Day, Birthday, Anniversary.
  • Some include a center memorial tree with individual ornaments for them to take home and place on their own tree.
  • Offer a memorial tree for them to take home to plant in honor of their loved one.
  • Include poems, prayers and music.
  • Have light refreshments following allowing others to mingle and families to comfort one another.
  • Invite chaplains or pastors/priests to encourage and pray with those in need.
  • Include a service handout that includes any poems and prayers that have been included in your service.
  • You may consider a handout or information on any upcoming grief support sessions at your organization or within the community.
  • Include travel tissue in your handouts or have available at a basket at entrance.
  • Consider utilizing a discreet essential oil scent from a main candle such as lavender.
  • As they enter, request the names of those that are being remembered and have named during the service.
  • Have small blank cards available titled My Best Memory of You... with space for them to complete and take home with their ornament or candle helping them remember the joy, laughter or love they brought.
  • If planning allows, when families RSVP have them email a favorite photo of their loved one and have them run on a tv or be projected at the service.
  • Encourage your attendees to invite their close family and friends.
  • Announce or open your service to the community through online calendar events.
  • Network with other organizations in the community and consider combining services with a hospice, hospital or other organizations.
  • If weather is not a concern, you may consider lighting a remembrance path or doing a commemoration outside where the candles illuminate the darkness.
  • Follow up with your families a few days after the service.

Following is a sample Candle Light Service:

PRELUDE: 

We are here to remember those we loved who have died.  At the center of our being is an awareness of an end to a valued relationship. Our hearts ache, our tears flow.  We feel a deep, tender wound because someone precious is no longer part of our life on earth.  We grieve because of that physical absence, but we also rejoice to have known that love. 

OPENING 

LEADER:
We are not alone in our grief, our tears and our memories. 

ALL:
We reach out to one another with love, with understanding and with hope.  Those we loved who have died unite us.  Your pain becomes my pain.  Your joy becomes my joy.  Your hope is my hope.  Some of us are far along in our grieving; others still experience grief so fresh and intensely painful that we feel helpless and see no hope. 

Some of us have found our faith to be a source of strength; some of us are angry; some filled with guilt or in deep depression; others glow with inner peace.  Whatever pain we bring to this gathering, it is pain we share.  Even as we struggle to rebuild our lives we reach out to one another in love.  We will share joy as well as pain.  We will share peace of mind as well as anger.  We will share faith as well as doubt.  We will help one another to grow as well as grieve. 

We are not alone.

REMEMBER ME

To the living, I am gone.
To the sorrowful, I will never return.
To the angry, they were cheated. 

But to the joyful, I am at peace.
And to the faithful, I never left.

I cannot speak, but I can listen.
I cannot be seen, but I can be heard.

So as you stand upon a shore,
Gazing at a beautiful sea….  Remember Me

As you look in awe at a might
Forest and its grand majesty…  Remember Me

As you look upon a flower and
Admire its simplicity…   Remember Me

Remember me in your heart, your thoughts,
Remember the close, loving times we shared;
The times we cried; the times we quarreled;
The times we laughed. 

For in these times that you gently remember me
….I am not gone.

CANDLELIGHTING: 

The flame of the candle in our center symbolizes remembrance.  As we light our own candle in memory of our loved one, let us do so with gratitude that they lived and that we shared their life for a time. 

As we pass the flame of remembrance from one to another let this tiny light also represent our own rebirth and renewal as we seek meaning in life without those we loved; as we strive for joy, peace and happiness; as we look to future's promise with our surviving loved ones and share our lives. 

IN TURN, AS YOU LIGHT YOUR CANDLE FROM YOUR NEIGHBORS: 

I light this candle in remembrance of _________________________________. 

(You may wish to say a few words about your loved one.) 

RESPONSIVE READING
From Gates of Prayer, Reform Judasim Prayerbook 

In the rising of the sun and its going down,
     WE REMEMBER THEM. 

In the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring,
     WE REMEMBER THEM. 

At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer,
     WE REMEMBER THEM. 

At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
     WE REMEMBER THEM. 

At the beginning of the year and when it ends
     WE REMEMBER THEM. 

When we are lost and sick at heart,
     WE REMEMBER THEM. 

When we have joys we yearn to share,
     WE REMEMBER THEM. 

As long as we live, they too shall live,
For they are now a part of us.
     WE REMEMBER THEM. 

LOOK INTO THE FLAME OF YOUR CANDLE … CLOSE YOUR EYES … WITH EYES CLOSED, BLOW OUT YOUR CANDLE … YOU WILL SEE THE FLAME STILL GLOWS BEHIND YOUR CLOSED EYES.  AND SO IT IS WITH OUR MEMORIES.  

MAY YOU FIND JOY IN THE SEASON. 

MAY YOU FIND PEACE IN IT'S REASON. 

MAY YOU FIND BLESSINGS IN CHRISTMAS. 

-Horan and McConaty, Denver, CO

 

 

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