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Grief is difficult at any time and even more so at Christmas. Following the Light Up a Life services for Rotherham Hospice we were contacted by an attendee saying they would love to re-read the talk about snow and grief. So here it is, for anyone that finds it helpful this Christmas.

Photo thanks to Aaron Burden on Unsplash

As its rainy and mild today, it’s hard to imagine that only a week ago we were covered in snow. Our reaction to snow can vary so much. On a very early dog walk on the first morning it was like an untouched blanket of beauty sparkling in the moonlight. The next day trying to get to work in the trodden in snow, slush and ice, it was a very different story.

I’ve recently starting reading a book called ‘Fifty Words for Snow’ that explores snow in different countries and words for snow in different languages. In the early pages, the author talks about how snow can make a familiar place feel strange. Snow muffles, it conceals, it quietens. Snow can suspend life as we know it.

As I read that it reminded me of grief. Grief can make our familiar activities feel strange – our day-to-day activities don’t feel the same. Grief can muffle our feelings, our energy; grief can muffle our responses to things. It can shroud our lives, conceal and quieten…. Grief can suspend life as we know it.

And like snow, grief can catch us unawares – a sudden, unexpected feeling like a single snowflake that seemingly comes out of nowhere. Or it can feel like a deluge like a snowstorm.

What we are doing today is so important. For we are giving space and time to honour our grief. We are also here to honour and give space and time to our memories. To honour and give space for our loved ones who have died…..those we carry and treasure in our hearts who are no longer with us. And as grief can come like a single snowflake, so comfort and hope can come like a single glimmer of light. A single candle. A glimmer to treasure.

So as we give space, our candles and lights tonight are symbols of life, of those lives we carry in our heats. Our candles are a way to remember, to celebrate, to love, to mark their lives, to reflect on their love for us which we hold in our hearts and our memories, to reflect on our love for them. Glimmers of light to say that love never fades. And as always at these beautiful, annual, events, we share our light with our neighbour who shares their light with others. A single glimmer that grows into a beautiful display of light, comfort and hope.

So I invite you to light your candle; to share your light with your neighbour and use this time to pause: to reflect on what your loved ones meant and mean to you, to be thankful, to remember the love, maybe to acknowledge or let go of difficult aspects of the relationship, if you wish, to pray – to honour and give space to the many lives represented here today.

Linda Gascoyne

December 2023

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