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Community candelight service for those grieving loss at Christmas

'It’s a time when those who are grieving can mourn and at the same time celebrate the life of their loved one,' says grief counsellor of Church of the Nazarene's 23rd annual service Dec. 8
For those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, Christmas can be the most difficult time of the year.
“It is a time when everyone else is feeling quite festive and celebratory, and yet those who are mourning are not feeling anything but grief and brokenness and loss and sadness,” says Dr. Keith Taylor, a grief counsellor, educator and author.
It is for those people, he says, that the annual Community Christmas Candlelight Memorial Service was started in Newmarket more than two decades ago.
“It is to give those people and their grief a voice, a public voice, and to let them know first and foremost that they’re not alone,” says Taylor. “There is strength in knowing you’re not alone.”
This year’s service — the 23rd — will be on Dec. 8 at the Church of the Nazarene, which is at 79 Main St. S. (at the northeast corner of Queen Street). Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and the service will start at 7.
The service, which is held in candlelight, includes readings, music and the reading out of names of loved ones.
“It’s a time when those who are grieving can mourn and at the same time celebrate the life of their loved one, all in the context of a safe place,” Taylor says.
He notes the service also provides an opportunity for those who are grieving “to invite family and friends who are doing their very best to support them but at times don’t know what to say or what to do, and so they come, because coming is a way of support.”
All those who attend are given a candle to take home after the service. “We call it a memorial candle, with the idea being that some time during the Christmas time people can light their candles and tell their stories,” Taylor says.
“Storytelling is powerful — it keeps our loved ones alive in our hearts through story and memory. There will be times when stories will evoke pain but at the same time evoke happiness and laughter, and it is a wonderful way to remember and memorialize those who are not physically with us anymore. So the service gives those who are grieving an opportunity to do that, as well as to continue the conversation afterwards.”
The service is open to the community and there is no admission charge.
People who would like to have the name(s) of their loved one(s) read out during the service should call 905-895-3162 by Dec. 6.