Remembering our loved ones at Christmas

Christmas is the season to be jolly, a chance to come together and spend quality time with family and friends. However, for those of us who have recently lost a loved one, it can be difficult to find the strength to join in the festive cheer.

Unfortunately, dealing with bereavement is a challenge we regularly face in the aged care sector, and whilst everyone’s grieving process is unique, spending time with others, sharing stories, and support can enable happy memories to flourish, and provide solace during an emotional time in our lives.

Here’s a look at how some of our Japara homes have chosen to honour the memory of those who sadly could not be here with us this Christmas.

Japara Albury & District

Each year, a Memorial Service is held at our Albury & District home, in Glenroy, to remember the family, friends, and residents who have passed away over the last 12 months.

The lifestyle staff go to great lengths to ensure the service is a truly bespoke event, filled with personal touches. An order of service containing the names of all those who have sadly left us is printed, as well as projected on a large screen for accessibility. The screen is also used to display a photo tribute of all the residents celebrating the happy memories and friendships they made during their time within the home.

Blue labels attached to flower bouquet displaying a poem about remembering loved ones at Christmas

“During the service, a bell is rung for each of our lost friends to acknowledge their passing, and a heart is placed on a memorial Christmas tree. This tree is then kept within the home throughout December, so that those who cannot be here with us in person can still celebrate Christmas with us in our hearts and in our thoughts,” says Angela Clement, Home Manager at Albury & District.

White Christmas tree with red and gold baubles, and pink heart-shaped messages from loved ones

After the ceremony, all attendees are invited to enjoy an afternoon tea and share stories about the many ways their fellow residents have enriched their lives over the years.

Japara Millward

The annual memorial ceremony at Japara Millward home, VIC, is held on the first Sunday of every December, with residents and family members coming together to remember their loved ones’ presence within the community.

Large Christmas tree decorated in gold stars

In a similar tradition to Albury & District, the name of each resident who has passed away is written on a star and placed on Millward’s memorial tree. Family and friends in attendance are then invited to light a candle and receive a beautiful memento to place on their own tree at home, in memory of the loved ones who cannot be with them this Christmas.

Small white candles lit inside a silver tray next to a vase of green and orange flowers and a singing lady dressed in black

“Our annual memorial service is always a significant event for all involved,” said Millward Home Manager, Mandy. “Over 70 residents, family members, and friends came together this year to celebrate the memory of those they have recently lost. The holiday season can be a painful time for those who are mourning the loss of a loved one, so having the support from others around you who are going through a similar process is an incredibly soothing experience.”

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