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Hospice of the Valleys honors the memory of loved ones at Love, Light & Remembrance event

Luminaries mark love, light, remembrances

Tim O’Leary

Special to the Village News

Many trails crisscross Temecula. One of those trails recently took your humble storyteller to the wine country for a yearly event that seeks to soften the sting of death and despair.

That outing – the sixth annual Love, Light & Remembrance Evening – drew about 90 people to Wilson Creek Winery. It marked my introduction to luminaries, an encounter that took place amid thoughts of loss and lamentation.

Others and I were fed and comforted, all at the same time, as we decorated and then lit plastic bags that marked the passing of friends or family members. Harpist Mary Shurleff played soul-soothing music throughout.

The Nov. 16 event was hosted by Hospice of the Valleys, a 40+-year-old nonprofit based in Murrieta. Most of the attendees had a loved one who was served by the hospice group prior to their passing over the past year.

I was invited there by Mike Patton, a local pastor who doubles as one of the organization’s bereavement counselors. I met Mike through the bereavement group meetings that I’ve been attending at the Fallbrook Regional Health District’s Wellness Center.

He has helped me walk a trail through troubled times.

In his brief remarks to the group, Mike read an essay that had surfaced in his weekly Fallbrook session earlier that day. That essay – titled “A Conversation with Grief” – detailed the heartache, hope and healing that grief can bring to our lives.

His colleague, Bill Koster, gave the history of luminaries, tracing their existence from indigenous cultures to 16th century Spain to today. He said they have come to symbolize peace, hope, hospitality, love, light and new beginnings.

Event participants were invited to decorate luminaries with stickers, foam letters and colored Sharpie pens. Some of the luminaries were splashed with names, hearts and other meaningful symbols. Other attendees unleashed their inner artists as they created personalized mementos. Several participants wrote messages to or about departed loved ones.

One said: “You are my sunshine.”

Another wrote: “Ray, you are missed.”

A grateful offspring penned: “I love you so much, my beautiful Grandma.”

A child stated: “Dad, your light shines bright.”

Someone noted: “Kimmy, we lost her one April day.”

Yet another proclaimed: “Christoper, we think about you every second.”

So, dear readers, please love, light the way for others and remember those who have gone ahead.

 

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