Candlelight service illuminated the memories of deceased loved ones

Sylvan Lake Funeral Home was filled with people Sunday, but there was no funeral.

Gordon Flinn

Sylvan Lake Funeral Home was filled with people Sunday, but there was no funeral.

With hymns and candles, those attending remembered deceased loved ones from years past, or more recent times. Boxes of tissues sat at every row of seats.

“It becomes very poignant at Christmas, their loss, because the person is no longer there,” said Diane Flinn, who helped organize the service and co-owns the funeral home with her husband Gordon.

“Hopefully it helps them through the Christmas season with their grief.”

Both Diane and Gordon have organized the service, together with Ed Stevenson, since 1995. Diane said she hopes those attending take away a sense of closure, release, and peace. Every year, she and her husband invite those who used the funeral home at other times in the year to the service.

“It’s just a way of giving back to the community as well,” said Diane.

Near the end of the service, Diane and Gordon lit the hand held candles of those attending. The candle represents the light of a loved one’s life, said Diane. When extinguished, it releases them.

“Both Diane and I have lost a family member at Christmas time,” said Gordon. “When we light the candle, it kind of remembers all the family members.”

The last couple years, they have given glass angels, engraved with the deceased’s name, to those who lost a family member in the past year. They can be hung on a tree, and have become increasingly popular. One family from Rocky Mountain House, where Diane and Gordon own another funeral home, asked for 15 angels.

The services have changed since they first began. For the last five years, they have included a slideshow, set to music, of the names of those lost in the past year.

“Each service is unique in its own way,” said Diane. “We have some people that come every year.”

Cliff Watt has attended the service every year since 2007, when he lost his mother. That year, he said, the service helped him gain a sense of closure. He continues to attend and remember.

“It’s just a peaceful way to remember,” said Watt. “Believe it or not, it’s the serenity of the whole thing … Of being there.”

Watt likes how those attending are from many different church denominations.

“They’re all there for the same reason,” he said. “The thing is that everybody’s got their reasons for attending.”

Rev. Jin Woo Kim, from Memorial Presbyterian Church, has taken part in the service for six years. He said those suffering the loss of a loved one can gain comfort from coming together with others.

“Most people come and even though we have people from different churches there is a community. We can encourage each other,” said Kim. “Hopefully we can reach out to the people in the community so they can come and be a part of this.”

Just Posted

Military Vehicle Display and Swap Meet will bring over 40 military vehicle displays

People from across Alberta will head to Red Deer for 2nd annual event

Beach Buddy Program brings reading lakeside

Beach Buddy Program is run through the Sylvan Lake Municipal Library during the summer months

Sylvan Lake swimmer heading to Pan Pacific Championships

Elizabeth Moore will be competing at the games in Fiji Aug. 23-26.

Eckville Elementary teacher advocates positive mental health for young children

Jaleesa Grzech has written a series of books to help children deal with anxiety and stress

Harvest safety reminders from Lacombe County

Lacombe County reminds producers, residents and visitors to be safe during fall harvest operations.

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Canadians believe in immigration but concerned about asylum seekers: study

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada paid for study to understand Canadian attitudes

These are the highest-paid actresses of 2018

In its list released this week Forbes said all 10 earned a total of $186 million before tax

Ponoka’s Ronnie Racing wins Hot August Night

About 15,000 people filled the Castrol Raceway stands at the motorsports complex

Vintage vehicle subject of RCMP search

Two Hills RCMP seek to identify owner of recovered 1940’s vehicle

Canada’s tax system unfairly favours wealthy, poll of CRA auditors suggests

Four of every five respondents think loopholes and tax credits built into the system benefit the rich

Banff’s Sunshine ski resort upset with proposed guidelines from Parks Canada

The plan would allow for more visitors but wouldn’t let Sunshine build additional facilities

Publication ban lifted on details about Fredericton shooting that killed 4

Judge lifts publication ban on court documents related to the Fredericton shooting

Feds to allow charities to engage in political, but not partisan, activity

The plan is to allow charities to pursue political activities

Most Read