We Gather to Honor & Remember

Circle of Lights MAIN Blog Image_UPDATED DATE

By: Debbie Wilson, LCSW, KCH Grief Support Specialist

Circle of Lights: A Ceremony of Remembrance is a time to reflect, to remember, and to celebrate our loved ones. Since 1991, Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care (KCH) has offered an annual memorial service as an important evening for grievers to express, connect and have a continued bond with their loved ones. We invite those who have lost a loved one to come gather around the fountain at Mill Creek Park to light a luminary with their loved one’s name on it, then share in a meaningful program of remembrance. We gather in the late evening, so as the sun sets, the lights of the luminaries rise to honor our loved ones.

Jaime Michel, Solace House Counseling Program Therapist and Circle of Lights program co-planner, Debbie Wilson, and Betsy Lummis during the 2023 Circle of Lights event.

It’s been my honor to help plan this memorial for many years. I think of the Circle of Lights as an important part of our legacy. We make space to honor families we’ve served at Kansas City Hospice, as well as others, and to remember. We share the common frailty of our humanity in our grieving, to normalize our need to connect to each other and to our loved one who died. We can all recognize that we need other people to bear witness of our journeys. 

We’re better together as we learned through the last four years.

In 2024, we’ll continue with similar elements of the past programs: singing, bagpipes, a story teller, performing illustrating artists, luminaries, and a message of hope and remembrance by Rev. Shanna Steitz, a KCH Board Member.

New for 2024 

New this year at Circle of Lights is an important element, as we’ll be honoring our Veterans and their families. There will be a flag sticker on the luminaries of the Veterans we have served and a message by KCH Chaplain Melissa Bowers. When requesting a luminary, you can designate to have a US flag sticker on the luminary, or ask for one at the program desk that evening.

Help for Grievers

Grief is a normal response to the loss of a loved one, and each of us grieves in our own way. Talking with a Grief Support Specialist who is supportive and educated on the many aspects of grief, or participating in one of our support groups or workshops can be helpful. While grief is an individual process, we at Kansas City Hospice believe you don’t have to grieve alone. Kansas City Hospice provides 13 months of Grief Support Services following a hospice death of a loved one. Solace House, a Center for Loss and Healing, is our community grief center. We want you to know we’re here to help as you navigate and adjust to life without your loved one.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. There’s hope and discussion in the medical community that the stigma of caring for your mental health is going away, as they incorporate the whole body into medical care. I think about the brain as the “computer” for our bodies; it makes sense to me that we need it to be cared for, for the rest of our body to function properly. 

It’s a sign of strength to seek support, rather than a sign of weakness. We’re here to support you as you grieve.

If you require grief support services please review our Grief Support & Counseling resources for ways we can help.

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