Hospice provides chances to memorialize lost loved ones

PUHI — Grieving the loss of a loved one can be especially overwhelming around the holiday season. In an effort to support the community, Kauai Hospice is once again offering a chance to memorialize the memories.

This year, for the 26th time, two evergreen trees will be set up at malls. People can buy ornaments upon which they can write the name of loved ones. That ornaments are then taken home or displayed on the trees.

The Trees of Remembrance evergreens are now at Kukui Grove Center and The Shops at Kukuiula through Dec. 24. Ornaments cost $7. All proceeds go toward supporting Kauai Hospice.

“We recognize grieving the death of someone you love is always hard, but during the holiday season it can seem unbearable, and this offers an opportunity for folks to take a moment and create an ornament,” said Lori Miller, executive director of Kauai Hospice.

Two trees are posted at each location. Volunteers will be sitting by the trees, passing out ornaments, which are colored balls at The Shops at Kukuiula and handmade holiday shapes at Kukui Grove Center.

“It’s a practical way and a nice way to remember, and for years people have come to the table, and there’s a little space for people to take the time and write,” Miller said. “The ornament is handled right there and then, and there’s info if they want to learn more about our programs.”

Pets aren’t left out of the equation either — those who are grieving the loss of a furry loved one have a chance to memorialize them as well. Of the $7 cost, $2 goes to the Kauai Humane Society for every pet ornament purchase.

“We recognize that pets are beloved parts of people’s families,” Miller said.

The practice is good for channeling grief for people of all ages and in all stages of the grief process, Miller said, and can be particularly healing for those who are experiencing the first holiday season without their loved one.

“It’s a way to celebrate new traditions too, and it helps people cope with the pain when everyone else around you is so joyful this holiday season,” Miller said. “It’s unique and it’s a good exercise in grief and mourning.”

Trees of Remembrance isn’t the only activity Kauai Hospice is offering this holiday season — there will also be three candlelight vigils around the island.

The first is on Dec. 5 in Lihue at Immaculate Conception Church. The second is Dec. 8 at Hanapepe Hawaiian Congregational Church, and the final service is at the Church of the Pacific in Princeville on Dec. 12. All candlelight vigils begin at 6 p.m. and are set to run for about an hour.

During these events, people will write down the names of their loved ones and those names will be read aloud. There will also be live music and a keynote speaker.

“A special speaker at each one of these will talk about how they were able to cope with the death of their loved one, especially through the holidays and the first seasons of everything,” Miller said. “It’s an inspirational and comforting message.”

Attending the vigils also gives people a chance to connect with others who have lost a loved one, providing a feeling of solidarity.

“It’s a time of warmth and healing and comfort,” Miller said. “Everyone’s loss and grief is unique, but at the same time, there’s comfort of being together with others who are also grieving.”

Info: Kauai Hospice at 245-7277.

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