Lighting a candle for the dearly departed

Members of the Cayman National choir sing a collection of Christmas carols.

More than 100 people attended a moving Light Up A Life ceremony hosted by Jasmine, formerly Cayman HospiceCare, at Camana Bay on Thursday evening.

One at a time, family members or friends who had lost someone made their way toward the Community Memorial Tree to place a candle for that special person as members of Cayman National Orchestra choir sang a collection of Christmas songs and carols.

A widow wiped tears from her eyes as she waited her turn. A mother and her two children knelt at the tree stand to read the names of those who had passed away. Some told their stories, others hugged. The list included people from all walks of life, with names printed on each glass jar containing a candle.

Randy Von Kanel, senior pastor of the Cayman Islands Baptist Church, gave a message of hope and inspiration.

As a fellow griever, Mr. Von Kanel said his son Landon had died 17 years ago, and he and his wife would light a candle in his memory. He said he was happy to share words and light a candle with many in the Cayman community.

Pastor Von Kanel said the remembrance candles reminded everyone that “light always conquers darkness, hope always dispels despair, and death always gives way to life.”

Dr. Virginia Hobday, medical director at the hospice organization, said the event was an opportunity “to remember and honor the memory of those we lost and cared for in the last year, in particular, [but] over the past 20 years that we have been operating, as well.”

“This holiday time of the year, when we celebrate, can be a very hard time for the bereaved, especially for those who have lost someone recently,” Dr. Hobday added.

She hoped by placing a candle in the company of others, that loved ones will not be forgotten. “Memory is the key to remaining connected with those no longer with us and this is what the event is for,” she said.

People remember their loved ones by placing candles on the Community Memorial Tree in Camana Bay Thursday night. – Photos: Jewel Levy

The ceremony was inspired by a similar one originally held in the highlands of Scotland, which has become a worldwide event, with many hospices celebrating in this way the lives of people who have passed on, she said.

Dr. Hobday spoke of the changes coming up for the hospice charity in the new year, with the opening of the new Jasmine facility on West Bay Road in January.

Jasmine will house a four-bedroom inpatient unit where people who cannot be cared for at home can be looked after by administrative and home care team.

Bodden Funeral Services’ Scott Ruby, who attended Thursday’s ceremony, said, “Grief shared is grief diminished.”