Thank you for sending in your loved one’s names, and offering pictures, music, and your stories and letters in remembrance of them.

This may be the first time you, or anyone you know has participated in a celebration of life service over the internet. As connected as we are today, globally, the distance through a computer screen can challenge how we connect to each other, and to ourselves emotionally. Computers were initially invented to transfer and translate data, yet because we cannot help but to imprint ourselves upon our technology, we have begun to transfer and translate human emotions across huge distances instantaneously. This probably began with email, but moved into chat rooms and now social media. But today, with the extent of our need to physically distance from one another, we are learning the ways in which this has been a blessing, and how it has also fallen short to meet the need of real human connection with one another.

Grieving has been one of the largest challenges this year for families. Finding ways to grieve, to memorialize, to celebrate, and to honor your loved ones who have died really exposed how much we need one another, how much we need one another close at hand. Some of the names which will be read today are of those who have died in years past, and some this year, some, during this pandemic, as these months pass, all of you will experience a passing birthday, an anniversary, a holiday, a day you have marked as significant in your life with your loved one.

When those days arrive, that is when we really see how much we need one another, and how wonderful it is to take time to intentionally focus on celebrating the life of those we love who have died.

As you no doubt learned through your grief, or maybe are still learning, you are more resilient than you ever thought possible, you faced incredibly difficult times, your reality shifted, your identity changed when your loved one passed, yet you honored them by seeking support, and looking for ways and rituals to remember them. We always find a way. And a day such as today is no exception. We find a way, within our ability, to make meaning, to honor and remember.

We find moments, when the storm wanes, and the clouds part, to smile at a memory, to be truly present in all of our senses. We can transport ourselves back to moments with our loved ones, and feel, see, smell, and touch that memory. This can be incredibly healing, although sometimes it can also be quite difficult. Be gentle with yourself.

I was reminded this week in our virtual support group of family recipes, and how there are some people who refuse to write down their beloved recipe for their family members. It can make you frustrated, especially when that information is lost after they die, but it can also make you laugh and giggle at their stubbornness, what were they trying to conceal? What was this power and ownership they felt was so important about a recipe? But the real power is in memory, you can allow yourself to be transported back, to celebrate that quirky stubbornness, and to recall the moments when they made that recipe for you, the smell, the taste, all the flavors, the jokes made in the kitchen, the anticipation, the gathering, the fellowship. That is what we are capable of doing when we feel a sense of longing or frustration when we miss our loved ones, we can honor and celebrate them through their memories.

So today, as we are distanced from one another, we can still find this presence within ourselves. What wisdom did they embody? Were they the type of person who could express their wisdom to you in poignant words when you needed it most? Or was their wisdom more subtle, but still found its way into your actions and your choices in life? These are ways to honor and remember them, to take time to uncover that wisdom, and to shape it, and impart it to the world. What ways did they show incredible strength, incredible kindness, patience, and love? This year is no doubt a good time to slow down and reflect on how you will carry their wisdom forward. How you will soak up the intense beauty of this world, and treasure the preciousness of time?

So today, in these challenging times when our systems we painstakingly built to support each other in grief have been made dormant, let us think about what is possible. Today, it is possible, in your homes, to celebrate your loved one’s life in a way that is memorable and meaningful. It is possible because you are not alone. We are joined together in this community in our joy and in our sadness. Know that these names we say today, the carnations we place in our urn, make these moments a special time and a place when people gather together in love, and in support across this beautiful town.

Now I will begin to read the names of those you hold so dear in your heart. Gary and Joan will help to place a carnation for each of them in our urn. Take this time to light a candle in their honor, to say something to them, say a prayer, or say their names out loud as well.  Join in celebrating these lives with me:

Judith Corbett Barker

Claire & Monk Chaney

Edward (Ned) Cooke

Barbara Dallas

Sue Elliott

Deane Gaston

Barbara Hodson

Ernest Rudolph Hopke

Mary Tate Ford Hopke

Ernest Richard “Ricky” Hopke

Marian Hoyle

Carol B. Marsh

Art Rodgers &

Lee Mershon

Christopher S. Moore

Arthur “Arth” Post

Irene Kurylo/Thamel

Paul Thamel

Arieh Ronnen

Ethel Wedel

Bill White

John Woloszynski

Paul J. Yatchisin

Our last carnation will be placed in honor of all those names unspoken today but remembered.

You are loved, you are missed, you are celebrated. May your wisdom pass on through those who loved you.

At this time, I invite you to find space for yourself to look at the memorial pages, to write something on the page in the comments. In years past, we would have invited you into the house for a reception. Today, take time to care for yourself, get a refreshment, have a bite of something, and reach out to someone to talk to. Share a story, laugh, or have a good deep cry. Use this time for yourself. This video will continue to play for short while to take you back around the grounds of the house. Please know that the staff here at Hospice House and Support Care of Williamsburg are thinking of you and wishing you and your loved ones well. Please reach out to us if you are in need of bereavement services. Be kind and gentle to yourself. Take care.



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Holly Campbell
3 years ago

Abby, this was a beautiful service. I knew Carol Marsh and all the Hopkes. It was especially gratifying to hear their names,Thank yo so much. A volunteer.

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