In remembrance: Annual Angel Memorial service honors 25 individuals

IN MEMORY: Paulette Strong (left) lights a candle in honor of her mother, Vivian Wilson, with the help of Cynthia Mallory (right), Mecosta County Commission on Aging director. The candle lighting was part of the annual Angel Memorial service to remember the people who have died in the previous year. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

IN MEMORY: Paulette Strong (left) lights a candle in honor of her mother, Vivian Wilson, with the help of Cynthia Mallory (right), Mecosta County Commission on Aging director. The candle lighting was part of the annual Angel Memorial service to remember the people who have died in the previous year. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

MECOSTA — For a short time, lights were dimmed, voices were hushed and music played as a group of individuals paused during the Angel Memorial service on Wednesday afternoon to remember those who have died over the past year.

The annual observance at the Mecosta County Commission on Aging and Senior Center helps remind people they are not alone in their grief, explained Director Cyntha Mallory.

“We’re all part of a larger community and I think it’s important we come together when we’re living and when we need to celebrate the lives of people who have passed on,” she said. “We all have something in common here — we’re in grief. We’re grieving but we’re not alone and we want to make sure people know they’re not alone. That’s what we’re about here at the commission on aging.”

After opening remarks by Mallory, the service included music, a gospel reading and remarks from the Rev. Jim Martin.

CLOSING PRAYER: The Rev. Jim Martin leads a closing prayer at the end of the Angel Memorial service on Wednesday at the Mecosta County Commission on Aging and Senior Center. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

CLOSING PRAYER: The Rev. Jim Martin leads a closing prayer at the end of the Angel Memorial service on Wednesday at the Mecosta County Commission on Aging and Senior Center. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

“In many ways, the hardest part of grief is remembering those who have gone before us,” Martin said. “Today, we gather specifically to remember our loved ones, friends and colleagues.”

Noting “grief shared is grief diminished,” Martin said gatherings such as the one on Wednesday were good for people trying to heal from their loss.

“Grief, in one way, is a costly consequence of love,” he said. “The only way to avoid the pain of grief is also to avoid the joy of love. What brings us here ultimately today is not grief, but love.”

After Martin’s remarks, Mallory read a list of 25 names of people who have died and had memorial contributions made in their memory to the Commission on Aging and Senior Center. As each name was read, a candle was lit in that person’s memory, either by a friend or family member or by a staff member.

Paulette Strong attended Wednesday’s service to light a candle in honor of her mother, Vivian Wilson. Strong felt she needed to be at the ceremony.

“To be honest with you, I’ve lost four people this past year,” she said, her eyes brimming with tears. “My best friend died four days before my mother. Then I lost my son on the 18th of April and my oldest sister on Dec. 1. I had to be here to light a candle … I just felt it was really important. Last year was a rough one for us, but I know they’re all in a better place.”

CANDLELIGHT: As part of the Angel Memorial service on Wednesday, a candle was lit in honor of each person named during the ceremony. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

CANDLELIGHT: As part of the Angel Memorial service on Wednesday, a candle was lit in honor of each person named during the ceremony. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

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Posted by Candy Allan

Candy is the Pioneer's associate editor. She also coordinates the Family & Friends, Religion and Parenting pages. She can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8386 or by e-mail at callan@pioneergroup.com.

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