VNA, community remember loved ones during holidays
December 2, 2009
Those who walk through the lobby of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association in the coming weeks might not notice a small, artificial Christmas tree perched on a table in the corner, decorated with frosted and polished silver bulbs.
But, those who look a little closer will see something different.
They'll see the touching expression of grief in the simple words written in marker on each of the bulbs.
"Chris, we miss you," one bulb read.
"Diana, loved forever," read another.
Each bulb represented a loved one lost, a memory held onto and one more holiday season with a space where that love once used to be.
On Tuesday at the VNA, staff and community members were welcome to share in a small ceremony celebrating the memory of lost loved ones.
Sandy Beran, spiritual care coordinator for Hospice Services of Northwest Colorado, said the holidays can be a difficult time for someone who has suffered a loss.
"We wanted to give an opportunity to people who have had a loss to get together during the holiday season to remember and do something tangible," Beran said.
Beran turned the lights down low and conducted a short but solemn ceremony by lighting four candles that represented grief, courage, memories and love.
"As we go into this holiday season, we think about this special place in our hearts we always reserved for you," Beran said.
She said the tree will stay up until just before Christmas, when people can take their ornaments home to place on their own trees.
Leftover bulbs will be left at the front desk for those who couldn't attend the ceremony but still want to participate by decorating the tree with another name.
Maria Mosman, a hospice nurse, has not only helped several families in her few months with the program, but is also heading into the holidays without two members of her family.
She lost her husband's grandparents Margaret and Vernon Blevins within two months of each other this summer.
Her husband, Lance Mosman, carefully wrote the names of his grandparents on two bulbs, before leaving with their 11-year-old son, Devlyn, for wrestling practice.
Maria said her son mostly understands what his mother does for a living and that she tries to talk to him about it when she can.
She had tears in her eyes as she thought of getting through the first holiday season without Grandma and Grandpa Blevins.
But, through her line of work, she developed a sense of perspective and had a message for others going through similar hardships.
"Just knowing there's support out their through our support groups," she said. "And knowing it's OK to remember loved ones. It is hard, especially that first year."
Although her job puts her in the face of tragedy day after day, she said it's a very rewarding experience.
"I love seeing the families I have helped," she said. "Just to see them smile."
As guests began trickling out the door of the VNA lobby Tuesday, Beran talked to a few of her co-workers, and even handed a book about grieving to one of the mourning guests.
She said the hanging of the ornaments was symbolic and important in the process of grieving over a loved one lost.
"It's something tangible," she said. "It's a symbol of that space a loved one will always have in your heart, and it lets them know they're still there."