On Saturday, November 8, 2014, on the banks of the May River, the beautiful Church of the Cross was the setting for Tidewater Hospice’s annual Service of Remembrance honoring patients who had been cared for during the past year.
Families and friends arrived from near and far — some coming from as close as a few blocks away while others drove for hours or flew into town to come to this celebration for their loved ones. Hugs and kisses were waiting for them on the steps of the church by the Tidewater staff who had walked this journey of service with them.
Together, with family, friends and staff sitting side by side, the service began with the church bell tolling three times. The opening candle lighting ritual celebrated how memory, gratitude, hope, peace and compassion had accompanied them on their journey with their loved one. Words of wisdom were read and a psalm was prayed by all. A reflection was offered that talked about how important each of their contributions had been to the day to day care of their loved one. They had given the most precious gift to their loved one — it was the gift of their presence. Their giving of themselves was not only transformative for those whom they served, it was also transformative in their own lives. Family members were encouraged to discover this healing gift within themselves.
In the sanctuary, in the center of the remembrance table was a book. It has been a part of each Tidewater hospice service of remembrance. With beautiful music playing in the background, the names of the beloved deceased were read. As each name was called out, a family member came forward to sign the name of their loved one in the Remembrance Book. Each was given a red rose after the signing.
This year, St. Gregory the Great Church’s, Jubilate Schola, came to share their musical gifts with those assembled. The students who make up the schola are from St. Gregory the Great School, John Paul II Catholic School, and the parish religious education program. Under the direction of Mr. Tom Tiehel and Ms. Linda Burkett, co-director, the children played their chimes before the service began. During the service, they sang two hymns which some family members said “sounded as if there were angels in the rafters.”
At the reception that followed, tears could be seen along with smiles of affection and caring. A community of strangers had come together on this special day to remember those lost and to recognize that they were not alone.