By STACY MILLBERG
ASHTABULA — Through tear-filled eyes, area residents honored and remembered loved ones they have lost, seeking comfort in each other and their memories this holiday season.
Zaback-Williams-Ducro Funeral Home held its annual Candle of Love service of remembrance on Sunday. The Ducro family began hosting the event in the 1980s, and although there were a few years the event was not held, over the past 25 years it has taken place in some form, J.P. Ducro said.
Guests of Sunday’s service were invited to record the names of their loved ones in the “Book of Remembrance,” which was placed in the hallway of the funeral home. They were also invited to share memories of their loved ones.
“(The service) is a way for families to come and remember their loved ones and get help at the holidays with grief,” said Lisa Demshar, pre-arrangement adviser.
The theme for this year’s service was “Thankful for the Memories.”
Demshar said they chose the theme because memories are all families are left with once a loved one passes.
“Whether a recent loss or a past loss, we’re talking about being thankful for the memories today,” she said.
Ducro said they try to do the event to let people know their loved ones will not be forgotten. “We’re all in this together,” he said. “We want you to know we’re thinking of you.”
After being welcomed by Ducro and Demshar, guests viewed a brief video presented by the Altered Student Ministries group from Madison. The video was set to Josh Groban’s song “Thankful.” It featured various photos and video clips which illustrated love, joy and memories, including children riding bicycles, grandparents reading to their grandchildren, family get-togethers and weddings.
The Rev. Steve Sargent, Sunday’s guest speaker, spoke about precious memories.
Five candles were lighted during the ceremony. Four of the candles represented each season and the fifth candle represented the victims of Sept. 11.
“We remember the military men and women who gave their lives so we can live in freedom,” Demshar said.
Once the candles were lighted, each guest lighted a candle from one of the five flames, in remembrance of their loved ones. After another video by Altered Student Ministries, the guests extinguished their flames at the same time.
To conclude Sunday’s service, each guest was invited to write the name or names of their loved ones on a memorial card and place them on the decorated Christmas tree at the funeral home. “The cards will stay on the tree throughout the holiday season,” Ducro said.
As the cards were placed on the tree, the tree was lighted. “The tree comes to light and life as the names are placed on it,” said Sue Ducro.