Families honour their loved ones

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Celebrant Lynley McKerrow writes the name of a loved one on a branch of the Tree of Life during a remembrance service held in Invercargill on Sunday.

ALMOST four months after her mother died, an Invercargill resident felt she finally had the chance to properly say goodbye last Sunday.

Coral Brown and her father were among 30 families who were part of a remembrance service held at the J Fraser & Sons funeral home chapel in Invercargill for people whose family member or friend died during the various Covid-19 alert levels.

Mrs Brown said her mother, Edith Crow, died on April 2, when the country was at Alert Level 4. She was not able to organise a service for her mother due to the lockdown restrictions.

The worst part in “this horrendous experience” was not being able to share the grief and have the comfort of her family members, including her daughter, who lived in Auckland, she said.

“It was really hard emotionally. The feeling was that we couldn’t mourn together or properly. My daughter was unable to return home to say goodbye to her grandmother, who she was very attached to.”

Mrs Brown organised a small farewell at her home on the day.

Coral Brown, whose mother died during the Alert Level 4 lockdown, lit a candle in her honour at the remembrance service.

“She died at home, so we dressed her up, walked in the garden with the coffin and we picked some flowers from her garden. But the pain was still there and we could not have our loved ones in this harsh moment.”

During the service on Sunday, Mrs Brown lit a candle to honour her mother.

“Watching this glow of the candle, it fills my heart with love,” she said.

J Fraser & Sons manager Wilson Fraser organised the service because he thought families should have the opportunity to grieve and find mutual support while celebrating the lives of those who had died.

“For the first time ever, at least in my long experience in the profession, our country’s traditional rights for families to choose for themselves as to the manner of a funeral service for their loved one had to be placed on hold during this time.

“We felt that it needed to be an occasion that would help and uplift those recently bereaved.”

The service was conducted by celebrant Lynley McKerrow, who expressed sympathy for the families.

“Today, together we embark on what is perhaps another part of the grief journey. And together we will not hide from the tragedy of the time we lived in, when ones we loved passed away in such a way, and at such a time we are certainly not used to.

“You have farewelled your loved one, they are now at rest. There was not perhaps the personal farewell you would have wished or hoped for, but you were there with them, as small a comfort as it may have been to you, but you were always there in spirit and in thought.”

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