By Melissa Smalley
While the upcoming holiday season can be a time of joy for many, it can also be painful for those experiencing the pain of losing a loved one.
It was in an effort to help ease the sorrow of missed loved ones at Christmas time that the 100 Mile District Hospice Palliative Care Society’s Memory Tree celebration first came to be 25 years ago.
“Everyone has memories of a person they care about who is no longer there,” longtime hospice volunteer Caroline Sharpe says.
“Usually Christmas time is one of joy with families and friends, but very often someone is missing from the celebrations.”
The Memory Tree is a way to honour those who are no longer here to celebrate the holiday season, by purchasing bulbs to hang on a Christmas tree. The names of honorees are also written in a book and read aloud at a special ceremony in December, with music, poetry and tree-lighting festivities outside the 100 Mile House Fire Hall.
The ceremony is an emotional one for those who participate, Sharpe says, but also an important way to pay tribute to loved ones at a difficult time of year.
“Those present share tears and companionship, and keep the memories alive,” Sharpe says, adding the community event has steadily grown over the past 25 years.
Funds raised through the Memory Tree celebration will help the Hospice Society to fund equipment for patients in the hospital or their homes, as well as education for volunteers and books and DVDs for the community.
The event also helps to raise awareness about the many services provided by the Hospice Society, including bereavement support groups, which are held on a regular basis in the community.
There are plenty of opportunities to purchase the Christmas tree bulbs – by donation – as Hospice Society volunteers will be on-hand at Save-On-Foods Nov. 18 and 19, and at Cariboo Mall Nov. 25 and 26.
Bulbs will also be available at the back counter of Donex Pharmacy & Department Store starting Nov. 18, as well as at the Memory Tree Ceremony, which takes place Dec. 9 at 6 p.m. at the 100 Mile District General Hospital cafeteria (Fischer Place entrance).
For more information about the Memory Tree ceremony, or to find out about the Hospice Society’s programs, call 250-395-7680.