Nigel Seymour speakingOn Sunday 3 December we held our annual Light up a Life service of remembrance. As it is held in the Hospice grounds, numbers are limited for safety reasons, so we invite those families who have been bereaved more recently.  

We were able to accommodate approximately 350 people who listened to Acting CEO, Nigel Seymour, and Bereavement and Spiritual Care Lead, Steve Nolan, take us through the event.

The evening itself was extremely cold and wet, but our spirits were lifted by the beautiful carol music played by the 1st Claygate Scouts and Guides Band, as well as carols sung by the Hospice Community Choir.

Choir singersThe Richmond Friends of Princess Alice Hospice Committee served hot drinks to keep us all warm and approximately 55 kind volunteers assisted us during the event. 

We received some lovely comments from our guests after the service: 

I felt the service was pitched really well not too religious for those who have different beliefs but still very focused on the positive story of Christmas, rebirth and light.  In particular the tree with the doves containing messages about loved ones was truly beautiful. A  big thank you to everyone who organised the event.  

Thank you for a wonderful celebration of life yesterday. I was the first time my father and I had been to the hospice since my mum dies there in April so it was a poignant evening in many ways.  

Many thanks for the invitation, it was a lovely service and the rain stopped as the service began too!.  

I just want to say thank you so much for the very touching and moving service yesterday.  It was perfect (apart from the rain).  

Please do take some time to look at the highlights video which includes photos and music from the event. The poem and some of the readings can also be found below.

 

Play

I’ll let your life light mine
As people gather chilled night’s air turns words
to misty breath, and collar turned, with gloves
pulled tight, secure against the cold, I turn
my thoughts to you

The mem’ries of the times
we cared for pain and treatment plans, and heard
your need to feel your best and watched your love
for life, so strong, so deep, so resolute

Your courage was inspiring and I’ll take
this time to pause
and let your life light mine
As music stirs and voices still, and lights
call our attention, emotions rise
and move me to remember things that turn
my thoughts to you

To mem’ries of the times
we sat in silence simply waiting “Nights
were challenging” you said, you’d close your eyes
and brush a tear, then smile and say, “Ah well!”
Your grace and fortitude were such I will
take time to pause
and let your life light mine

As friends and fam’lies reunite and hands
are held and love exchanged in touch and glance
I’m taken to the time we met and let
thoughts turn to you

The mem’ries of the times
you shared your stories about life, those plans,
ambitions, joys, regrets; that kiss, that dance
and how the price of love is grief and how
it felt to leave And so tonight I will
take time to pause
and let your life light mine

As countless jewels flame into light and melt
enfolding dusk I feel my spirit spark
I focus on one speck of hope and let
thoughts turn to you

The mem’ries of the times
we met and spoke of dreams and fears I felt
in you an inner strength that left its mark
in me So eyeing now that light of hope

I’ll let that strength inspire and will again
take time to pause
and let your life light mine

From a Sikh perspective

This story reflects the value of universal love, compassion, and seeing the divine light in every soul.

Bhai Kanhaiya Ji was a devoted Sikh who served in Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s army. During the battles, he was assigned the duty of serving water to the wounded soldiers. He carried out this service with great dedication and humility.

However, one day, some soldiers complained to Guru Gobind Singh Ji that Bhai Kanhaiya Ji was also giving water to the wounded enemy soldiers. They were concerned that this could be detrimental to their cause, as the enemy soldiers might regain strength and fight against them.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji summoned Bhai Kanhaiya Ji and asked him about this. Bhai Kanhaiya Ji humbly replied, “When I look at the faces of the wounded, I see no Sikh or enemy, I only see the face of God in everyone. I cannot differentiate between our soldiers and the enemy as I only see God’s light in every human being.”

Guru Gobind Singh Ji was deeply moved by this response. He embraced Bhai Kanhaiya Ji and praised his understanding of the true essence of Sikh teachings. The Guru then instructed that along with water, Bhai Kanhaiya Ji should also give ointment to heal the wounds of the injured, regardless of whether they were friends or foes.

This story reflects the value of universal love, compassion, and seeing the divine light in every soul. Bhai Kanhaiya Ji’s actions were a beacon of hope and humanity during a time of conflict, exemplifying how empathy and kindness can transcend boundaries and bring light to the darkest situations.

 

From a Buddhist perspective

May the memories of our loved ones and the good deeds they have done, give us strength when we are feeling sad.  Let us take inspiration and learn the lessons from their past to do good. Let us be free of regrets over the past, not worry about the future and live in the present.

May the Four Noble Truths shine a light when we feel sorrow, and help us to understand the truth of unsatisfactoriness, change and impermanence of self.  Let us see this not as the end but as many new beginnings.

May we all experience compassion and loving kindness towards all beings, to support us especially in times of loss and grief.

May we see the hope in the way out of and the end of all suffering through mindfulness and wisdom, and reach the ultimate joy of enlightenment.

‘Aroghyaparama labha, santutthi paramam dhanam, vissasaparama ñati, nibbanam paramam sukham.’

‘Health is the greatest possession, contentment is the greatest wealth, a trusted person is the best of kin, Nirvana is the greatest bliss.’

– Dhammapada, 204