Saying Their Name: Our Candlelight Services

Posted on December 18, 2013 by Elizabeth Gerhard under Funeral Directing, Inspiration, Personal Stories of Grief
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candlelight 2013

“In a world that tells the ones left behind that it’s time to get over it, to move on, this ceremony gives them permission, most importantly, to speak the name of their loved one.”

When the funeral ends and goodbyes are being said, first comes the hug, and then the thank you, and then those often heard words…“I hope I don’t have to see you again for a long time.”  As a funeral director, I do not take these words personally.  I know what is meant by them.  But yet on the first Saturday in December, a day designated annually for our community Candlelight Service, hundreds of people choose to come back to their neighborhood Schoedinger Funeral Home.  It’s not an easy choice.  It’s not a fun choice.  But something draws them back.  And I think I know what that something is…

When we invite families to come back to the funeral home, we give them permission to do a number of things.  We give them permission to stop everything they are doing in preparation for the holiday season, and once again focus on someone who has played a significant role in their life.  We give them permission to once again acknowledge the loss and not pretend that it never happened.  In a world that tells the ones left behind that it’s time to get over it, to move on, this ceremony gives them permission, most importantly, to speak the name of their loved one.

Candlelighting

Elizabeth helps to light a candle in memory of a loved one.

At Schoedinger, we do what funeral homes do best; create a safe environment where it’s okay to feel, to speak, to cry, to acknowledge and to support one another.  And on the first Saturday of every December, families from all different backgrounds, circumstances and socioeconomic classes come together in commonality.  They humbly come together to remember and to honor, through the beauty of lighting candles.  “I light this candle in memory of a wonderful mother, grandmother and great-grandmother”… and then the name is spoken.  The name.  Dare we say the name?  Yes.  Say the name! There are tears, and then in the lighting of one simple candle, there is a smile.  I see it every year.  It is one step forward in someone’s healing journey.  And it warms my heart and reminds me why I look forward to this ceremony year after year.

Is there something special that YOU do privately or publicly to remember a loved one during the holidays, or on a birthday, or just because?

Elizabeth Gerhard

Elizabeth was born and raised in Oshkosh, WI where a high school class on death and dying impacted her life in such a meaningful way that a career in funeral service became a natural fit. She has been employed by Schoedinger Funeral Service since 1997 and is proud to be an active Rotarian. She has successfully raised two children into adulthood and finds that the best therapy for a stressful week is a motorcycle ride on the beautiful back roads of Ohio.

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