Friends and family gathered at Christ Lutheran Church in Valparaiso on Tuesday evening at the VNA’s annual Tree Lighting Ceremony to honor and remember loved ones during the holiday season. Before the ceremony began, families received a special personalized ornament to place on the VNA Tree of Remembrance in memory of their loved one. The ornaments were later taken home by attendees as a keepsake. The holidays can be a bittersweet time those who are celebrating with family, but also missing a loved one. The VNA Director of Development, Maria Galka, explained that in times of grief it is important for people to support each other.
“The holidays can be tough when you have lost somebody you love,” Galka explained. “This is an opportunity for people who are having a similar experience to come together and support each other, while remembering their loved one.” Everybody has a different way of coping with their loss, as Galka described, but for those attending, it was comforting to know that there were others going through the same or a similar situation, that they were not alone in their grief. Galka said, “Everybody’s grief is different. Sometimes it’s helpful to know that even in this time of joy and celebration, it’s okay that you’re still sad sometimes, that you miss that person.”
The healing process can be a hard journey. Events like the VNA’s Tree Lighting Ceremony help bring people together to celebrate the memory of someone they love and miss. An attendee, Tami Monahan, shared why this event is helpful and important to people. “Everybody needs support. Some people don’t have it,” Monaham said. “This is a way to be with other people that have gone through the same thing.”
VNA Hospice Chaplin, Craig Forwalter explained why the ornaments are meaningful to many families and what they represent.
“It is a way of including their loved one in their Christmas celebration,” Forwalter described. “Folks that are going through the mourning process can include their loved one through the ornament and this time of remembering.”
The holidays are a time of joy, but for those who are grieving it can be very difficult. The VNA Tree Lighting Ceremony provided families with the opportunity to come together and remember and honor their loved one with other families who are also facing this holiday without someone special.