I wanted to share a memorial tool that I’ve used several times during group grief counseling (Becky, Jessica and I have done this together as well). A memorial candle lighting ceremony with spoken verses has been especially comforting during difficult times, like the holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. We recently performed it at LOSS two weeks ago in a group setting. This was the first time that I was overcome by emotion and cried. It felt so good to get it out and feel a real connection to my Dad.
You can do this by yourself, or how I have done it—with a group (friends or family of your loved one who has passed). Everyone gets a candle to light, and then taking turns, read the verses below, which are copyright by Sherry L. Williams. After everyone reads a verse, take a moment of silence to pray or talk with your loved one.
As we light these five candles in memory of and in honor of you, we light one for our grief, one for our courage, one for our memories, one for our love, and one for our hope.
This candle represents our grief. The pain of losing you is intense. It reminds us of the depth of our love for you.
This candle represents our courage – to confront our sorrow, to comfort each other, and to change our lives.
This candle is in your memory – the times we laughed, the times we cried, the times we were angry with each other, the silly things you did, and the caring and joy you gave to us.
This candle is the light of love. As we enter this holiday season, day by day we cherish the special place in our hearts that will always be reserved for you. We thank you for the gift your living brought to each of us.
And this candle is the light of hope. It reminds us of the love and the memories of you that are ours forever. May the glow of the flame be our source of hopefulness now and forever. We love you.
After the candle lighting, we took turns reading verses from this poem by Paul Alexander:
“Light A Candle”
And I will light a candle for you
To shatter all the darkness and bless the times we knew
Like a beacon in the night
The flame will burn bright and guide us on our way
Oh, today I light a candle for you
The seasons come and go, and I’m weary from the change
I keep moving on, you know it’s not the same
And when I’m walking all alone
Do you hear me call your name?
Do you hear me sing the songs we used to sing?
You filled my life with wonder, touched me with surprise
Always saw that something special deep within your eyes
And through the good times and the bad
We carried on with pride
I hold on to the love and life we knew
Holidays are so tough—it’s when we should be surrounded by the people we love. And for us survivors of suicide, we are missing a huge part of our life, and it makes the holidays seem less important—less special. I hope you find some peace in the few things I’ve included in this post; for me, being able to express my emotions and have a connection with my Dad around this time of the year has mad e me feel a little more sane and in control. Please let me know if you decide to use the candle lighting ceremony, or if you have other things that have helped you this holiday season.