Remembering our loved ones – differently – in 2020
They may look a little different this year, but Light Up a Life ceremonies, Hospice of the Panhandle’s longstanding holiday remembrance and honor events, will take place in 2020 despite the pandemic.
The white luminaries with red ribbons will once again appear at CNB Bank in Berkeley Springs. The Circles of Light, gracefully hanging in the dark, will sway gently in the breeze. The American flags, designating veterans who we have loved and honored, will remind us of their service to our country. Each luminary represents someone – a mother or father, grandma or grandpa, sister or brother, child, friend or neighbor. We honor and remember them during this season, during this pandemic, during this difficult year that has been 2020. Although in many instances, they are no longer with us here, we love, remember and honor them. Always.
Hospice of the Panhandle’s annual Light Up a Life ceremony, is set this year for Friday, Dec. 4 at 5:15 p.m. – sunset – at CNB Bank at 101 S. Washington St., Berkeley Springs. Other ceremonies also are planned for 4:45 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 6 at the Hospice campus in Kearneysville and again at 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 8 at Shaffer Funeral Home in Romney.
What’s different this year is how the ceremonies will look. There will still be a reverent reading of all the names of those being honored or remembered, but because of safety concerns, there will be no indoor gathering. There also will be a reflection and some songs shared by Volunteer Services Manager Katrina Stevens. Those who wish to view the display can come to any of the locations, to listen to the name-reading, reflection and songs, which will be broadcast outside, and find their loved ones’ luminaries. Those who prefer can also simply drive by the Light Up a Life locations. What’s also different is a photo slide show display of loved ones that will be seen on screens at CNB and Shaffer buildings and in the upper windows of Hospice’s main office
“We are very excited with this addition,” said CEO Margaret Cogswell. “We think this component will be lovely and just one more visible way for us to remember and honor our families and friends.”
Cogswell added that volunteers and staff still will be on hand at each ceremony to help family members locate the luminaries of their loved ones. Staff and volunteers will be wearing masks, and Cogswell said that all participants should plan to do so as well.
“Our staff is used to this. We have been operating with utmost caution, wearing masks and appropriate PPE, since the outset of the pandemic,” Cogswell said. “We want to assure the community we are doing everything to keep them safe, yet allowing them to continue this lovely tradition.”
“I am always awed by Light Up a Life,” said Hospice of the Panhandle Board chair GT Schramm, who also reads names during the ceremony. “It is so moving, and such a wonderful way to always remember and honor our loved ones.”
Some family members attend the ceremony year after year, using it as a way to begin a special celebration of the holiday season.
Luminaries can be purchased either before the ceremonies by calling Hospice of the Panhandle at (304) 264-0406. There are three levels of luminary remembrances – individual lights at $15 each, angels at $100 each and circles of light at $250 each. The angels and circles of light are mailed to donors after the event. A photo remembrance is an additional $5. Luminaries also can be purchased online at hospiceotp.org/light-up-donate-form/ or by calling (304) 264-0406.
The luminaries are left on all night at CNB Bank and at the other locations. Funds raised from the project will assure that Hospice can continue to provide excellent care to patients and families as it has for the past 40 years.
“We’d hope people will drive by, just to get a glimpse of this,” Cogswell said. “It is incredibly moving to think of all these wonderful people who have touched our lives, and remain in our hearts.”