Candlelight filled Sylvan Lake Funeral Home Sunday, as families gathered to remember loved ones who died within the last year.
The Christmas candlelight service of remembrance takes place annually, during what funeral home owner Gordon Flinn said is a very difficult time of year for many of those families.
“Anybody can attend (the service), and it helps them,” he said. “It’s a difficult time, but this is sort of letting them feel that there is somebody in the community that still feels for them.”
Families lit candles after several hymns were sung, and words spoken by Pastor Warren Kay, Reverend Kevin Haugan and Reverend Jin Woo Kim.
Gordon Flinn and his wife and funeral home co-owner Diane Flinn lit the first two candles, before sharing with others.
“It’s a symbol of life,” said Gordon Flinn. “We always say when you feel comfortable, you can exterminate your candle.”
Some people do so almost immediately, while others keep their candles lit for up to ten minutes, he added.
According to manager Ed Stevenson, the service is open to anybody, and not just those who have made use of the funeral home’s services.
He feels that people attending often benefit from having the opportunity to gather with others who have experienced similar losses.
“It helps them with some of the things that they’re going through,” he said. “When they get talking to others who are going through the same thing, they get an understanding that this is normal, and not abnormal … everybody feels this way.”
Those in attendance were invited to an afternoon of fellowship and lunch at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, which took place immediately after the service.
Memorial Presbyterian Church choir sang throughout the service, between candle lighting, prayer and a digital presentation listing names of absent loved ones.
Pastor Warren Kay hoped that the service would be meaningful for everyone who attended.
“We each have a different memory, but we all share a common emotion,” he said. “We strive to remember those things that will never be forgotten.”