FAIRFIELD — The holiday season took on a somber yet supportive tone Friday night as NorthBay Hospice presented its Tree of Memories to commemorate those who have died in the past year.
A few hundred county residents gathered to share their grief and their memories of loved ones they’ve lost. They heard a musical tribute and watched a slide show, and heard words of comfort from a handful of speakers. Together, organizers hoped, they found some solace.
“What is shown is people who isolate, don’t tend to heal as well,” said Linda Pribble, bereavement and volunteer coordinator for NorthBay Hospice. “People who tend to talk about it, tell their story, express their tears, tend to heal better.”
The Tree of Memories has been a tradition at NorthBay Hospice for about 25 years, Pribble said.
“We do it every year,” she said. “It’s for anybody in the community that’s lost a loved one, not just our hospice, because we reach out to Solano County. Everybody gets an ornament to put on the tree in memory of their loved one.”
The 9-foot tree was lit and covered with butterfly ornaments, bearing names of lost loved ones.
“We read the names of people who passed and we have their photographs, so people – families – can feel like they’re not alone in grieving,” Pribble said. “There’s a whole community here.”
They could also take a memento of the evening home with them.
“We have a keepsake ornament that people can buy – donate some money to our hospice and that money goes to programs for the public,” Pribble said.
The butterfly was introduced to bring a sense of hope to those who are grieving.
“It’s a hospice symbol for transformation and hope and it’s our symbol, too, at NorthBay,” Pribble said. “The reason I brought it out this year and I’ll bring it out the next couple of years is to lighten people’s spirits because their hearts are heavy and to help them have hope.”
Also bringing some cheer to the night were the smaller Christmas trees that served as centerpieces on the reception tables, each decorated differently, in bright colors, or with photos.
“All the hospice nurses did a competition of Christmas trees, and I thought I would use them this year,” Pribble said.
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.