Service a reminder of lost loved ones

Published 10:40 am Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It may be the most wonderful time of the year for some. But for those who have lost a loved one, the holidays are hard.

As Brady Lipscomb, pastor of Eastwood Baptist Church, says, “it’s an empty chair at the table. Somebody’s not around the Christmas tree or the family get-together.”

But turning grief into a message of hope is the goal of Lipscomb when he speaks at the ninth annual memorial service at 2 p.m. Saturday — an event that Hall Funeral Home in Proctorville puts on each year.

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“This time of year we remember our loved ones and we need to remember what they have passed on to us,” Lipscomb said. “There is a time for grief, but it is the aspect of hope and comfort that we want to express.”

Each year on the Saturday following Thanksgiving the funeral holds a special service geared to families who have lost loved ones in the past year. It was the idea of Clorinda Hall, one of the directors, and her daughter, Ericca Hall Workman.

“She just wanted to do something for our families that we served in the past year,” Evan Hall said about his mother, Clorinda.

The service is a combination of music, provided by Hall cousins Joe and Sue Alberts who fly up from Atlanta for the event, and a homily from an area pastor. Then the names of those who have passed away this year will be read. Then those attending place an ornament that they have brought on a special Christmas tree.

“Our mom calls it a Tree of Life,” Hall said. “Any family member or friend can bring up an ornament and hang it on the tree. Most people bring an ornament symbolic of the loved one.”

The service, which usually attracts 150, is followed by a reception.

“We have a lot of repeat families, even though it is specially designed for families that we have served that year,” Hall said. “But we have other families come back. Grieving is an ongoing process.”

In the past seven years, Hall has watched families reach out to each other, especially those for whom the mourning process is not fresh.

“It is interesting to see how families interact. It is like they support each other,” he said. “When they get here, they find they have a common bond.”

The memorial Christmas tree remains up through the holidays.

“This has brought some closure and brought comfort,” Lipscomb said. “This gives people a time to rejoice in a very positive sense, but also to grieve in a positive sense. What the Hall family is doing is really something that comes from their heart. It doesn’t matter what funeral home served your family. They want to want to say, ‘We genuinely care.’ “