Candles of remembrance

When Amberlee Gadke found the letter inviting her family to the memorial service at the Misericordia Community Hospital, she knew they had to go. She didn’t know what to expect but felt it was important for her to be there. Amberlee’s father, Reinhold Treit, had passed away several months earlier at the hospital.

After the service, Amberlee’s family put their memorial piece honouring her dad, Reinhold, by the candles lit to remember loved ones.

“I had been the person who took charge after my dad passed away, so I had put aside my grief just like one of the chaplains at the service said. The service helped give me space to grieve,” said Amberlee.

Harold Chopko, Carolyn Doroshuk’s father

The Misericordia Hospital has been holding quarterly memorial services for patients who passed away since 1988. The services have changed over time, but wanting to recognize that something significant in people’s lives happened at the hospital has remained constant. 

“At a funeral everyone is looking at you. Your grief is on display, so you may want to hold back. The chaplains encouraged everyone to express whatever was relevant for them. It was so freeing. For me, I cried; I didn’t think I would,” said Carolyn Doroshuk. “My father, Harold Chopko, passed away a few months before this service.”

As part of the service, six pillar candles representing different aspects were lit—Memory, Community, Grief, Mystery of Life and Death, Thanksgiving and Love. As part of the service, the chaplains invited family members to come up and light a taper candle in honour of their loved one. 

“The candle lighting was amazing. At the end of it, one of the chaplains took a moment to light another candle for all the loved ones who weren’t able to attend. It was very thoughtful,” said Amberlee. 

“The bowl of candles and the review of names helps remind families they are not alone. In this room, they are part of a community that is going through something similar,” says Wendell Gelderman, Chaplain.

Chaplain Wendell Gelderman in the chapel.

The service takes place on a Saturday morning to give more people the opportunity to attend. Amberlee lives about two hours away from Edmonton.

“The social afterward allowed my mom to see and talk to two of the chaplains who supported her and my dad. She really appreciated the opportunity to talk to people she had built a spiritual connection with,” says Carolyn.

“A lot of times one of us has worked with these families leading up to the death of their loved one. For us, it’s special to see the family again because it reminds us of profound moments in others’ lives that we were a part of,” says Wendell. 

All Covenant Health sites hold joint services of remembrance for those who have died in our facilities. We are not able to provide individual memorials or funerals in Covenant Health facilities.

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