Lights, love, hope: celebrating loved ones lost

WINSTON-SALEM — Surviving the loss of a loved one is a challenge met on a day-to-day basis. Losing someone important due to cancer, heart attack, or any other fatal event or illness brings a darkness and despair that can be difficult to escape. Each person grieves in their own way and at their own pace, but eventually the darkness fades and life becomes a little brighter. Many loved ones left behind to mourn a loss look for opportunities to celebrate their lost loves, remembering the joyful times and shared moments with family and friends.

An upcoming community opportunity called Lights, Love, Hope is a way to recognize those who have been lost to cancer and who have had an impact on people’s lives. Tara O’Brien, CEO of Cancer Services, describes this event as, “a collaborative community event open to anyone in our community who wishes to recognize the impact of a lost loved one on their own life and the lives of individuals throughout the whole community.”

Lights, Love, Hope was the brainchild of Marion Alexander and Tara O’Brien as they shared lunch together and reminisced over the recent loss of Marion’s husband, Chuck Alexander, to a sudden heart attack. According to Marion, they wanted “to plan an event that helped the community cherish the memories, lessen the grief, and celebrate the life of the loved one(s) lost.” They chose All Saints Day and quickly assembled a committee of friends, family, and co-workers to organize the event. Arts for Life, Cancer Services , Lowes Foods, along with the Jerry Long YMCA and other local businesses are collaborating partners for the event

The Lights, Love, Hope celebration will take place on Nov. 1, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Jerry Long YMCA in Clemmons. There is no cost for attendance, but donations are welcome. The event will include individual art projects appropriate for any age group facilitated by Arts for Life, a community art project sponsored by Cancer Services, quilt signing and messaging for a loved one, face painting for children, uplifting music, healthy snacks, and a luminary lantern that can be decorated and released later from home. The setting will be outdoors, weather permitting, or indoors in the YMCA if inclement weather occurs. All of the activities are intended to celebrate the memory of a lost loved one and bring a little light and joy to those missing them.

Gina Frank captured the spirit of the event in this quote:

“Losing someone we love to cancer is very painful. It’s even worse to see them suffer. When they die we know by our faith that their suffering has stopped. But our hearts are broken. While we can’t bring them back, remembering them is always a special moment. Releasing a lantern penned with a love message is a gesture of hope. Hope for the day we will meet again. Hope that they feel our love. Hope of renewing our faith in being reunited again one day.”

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