OSAGE | “It is a way to bring back memories and to honor my Dad, who passed away several years ago,” said Karen Thome following Hospice of North Iowa’s Tree of Life Ceremony held on Nov. 27 at the Osage Alliance Church’s Family Center.

The seventh annual ceremony provided family members and friends with a time to remember and honor their loved ones who have passed away.

Autumn Hawver, Bereavement Coordinator for Hospice of North Iowa, welcomed those attending, which was followed by the lighting of the Christmas tree and sisters, Jess Clayton and Dawn Krebsbach, provided special music.

Dan Larson, pastor of the Cross Lutheran Church, Charles City and Hospice Chaplin, provided a message of hope for the grieving.

“Stress and grief often go hand-in-hand and you have a lot to deal with during this season. Having hope amidst grief and sadness isn’t easy,” Larson said. “It’s only natural to look for relief and hope for the future, and God will give you that relief."

Larson encouraged everyone to continue to hope as they grieve, citing a Biblical promise from 1 Peter 5:10, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.”

At the end of the devotional time, names of those being remembered were read. After the service those in attendance were invited to take Christmas ornaments home to hang on their own Christmas trees, to remember the loved ones they had lost.

“This event is to help bring the light of hope during the holidays to those who are grieving and missing their loved ones,” Hawver said. “The darkness of the tree represents grief. When the tree is lit, it represents the hope that the grieving will continue with their grief journey and they will heal.”

Following the ceremony Millie Mullenbach, of Osage, said, “I lost my husband about 17 years ago, and I lost a son fourteen years ago. This service brings back lots of memories and it is nice to remember.”