Christmas can be a difficult time for those who are mourning the loss of a loved one.
To help with the grieving process, W.J. Jones and Son Parkview Funeral Home is hosting a Mourning Star Christmas Service on Thursday, Dec. 8.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the event, with the theme being "The Greatest Gift".
"This event is all about supporting people during the holiday season. A time that really magnifies their sense of loss. It's our way of creating a sacred and safe and quiet space for folks to come together to be with others who understand," explained Della Ferguson, funeral celebrant and grief support worker.
"It can feel very isolating when a person is going through, especially a season like Christmas, where society is putting on the merry, and you're feeling absolutely wrapped in pain. Every little thing seems to trigger that pain and so what we do is we want to help people understand that and to offer just an alternative space that honours those feelings and helps them feel validated and not alone."
Those who arrive at the service will receive a memorial tree ornament on which they will write the name of a loved one or loved ones on. Once they enter the chapel, the ornament will be placed on the tree at the front. A candle is then lit in memory of the loved one(s). Joya Johnston will be sharing special music during the 40-minute-long ceremony. Tree ornaments will be retrieved at the end of the service along with the candle.
Ferguson will also be sharing some reflections from community members.
"I've invited a number of folks who have been on the journey awhile to share what is the greatest gift that they experienced during Christmas in regard to their grief journey and they have shared some beautiful reflections and I'm really honoured to read their words on their behalf."
Many people have been attending the service for years, while for others, this will be their first time.
"Some folks create this as their ritual," added Ferguson. "Every year it's that place where they can come and write the name of their loved one and maybe even say it out loud to someone or just be with their feelings quietly. Some have come for years and then there are some that this is their first year and we hope that they find that it's a very serene, safe space for them to come and be with others."
The Mourning Star Christmas Service will take place this Thursday at 474 Hochelaga Street West with special music starting at 7pm. The service gets underway at 7:30pm.
Listen to Cory Knutt's full interview with Della Ferguson below: