Author: Tim Brinkley
To remember does not mean that we have forgotten, but rather that for a moment in time we chose to place a memory in the forefront of our thoughts, engaging with our emotions, and creating beauty around it. At Petersburg Home for Ladies, we remember those residents who have passed away through our Memorial Tree. Every resident of the Ladies Home has a personalized ornament, displayed on the Christmas tree in our lobby area. When a resident passes away, her ornament is moved to our Memorial Tree.
The Memorial Tree tradition was started by the staff of Petersburg Home for Ladies in the year 2011. Though it is a recent tradition, it is nonetheless impactful each season. Our residents and staff join together with local chaplain, and family members of those we have lost to eternity, to give thanks, grieve together and share memories. During our annual ceremony we read scripture, reflect on eternity and individually place residents’ names on the tree as we tell their story.
We intentionally leave the tree unfinished, providing opportunity for others to join in this tradition throughout the remainder of the season. Guests are encouraged to visit the Memorial Tree and place their loved one’s ornament on the tree as well. A basket of ornaments is located next to our memory book, where words of grief, honor, and celebration have been written by many throughout the years. Guests are encouraged to leave their thoughts in the memory book and choose an ornament to place on the tree. For some this is joyful, for others solemn, but to everyone who takes time to join in this tradition, it is of great value and worth.
Our memory book reads as follows:
“From our Christmas past, we have learned our traditions and created the memories we hold dear. In our Christmas present, we may grieve the loss of loved ones while holding on the joy of their legacy. In our Christmas future, we will once again cherish our loved ones at the consummation of all things. This book is dedicated to those who have entered eternity before us. You are not forgotten.”
This year, as you visit the Ladies Home, take a moment to step into our Wellness Center, add your thoughts and wisdom to our memory book and look back over the thoughts and wishes of others from years gone by. We thank you for making this part of your annual celebration and for bringing your loved ones with you to help make it become part of theirs as well.