About 40 people from about a dozen families gathered at Falls Park in Pendleton, Ind., in a clearing where there were no trees immediately overhead.
That clear sky was important, as they were going outside to release memorial Japanese lanterns into the air, lifted up by the heat of a flame burning at the paper lantern’s base.
“It just feels good standing here watching them float away,” said Elizabeth Driver of Muncie, who was there in honor of her late father, Dale Knotts. “It gives you time to think about the people that we’ve lost, not only the ones they helped us get through their passing, but the other ones we’ve lost through the years.”
The people Driver referred to who helped her and others through the death of loved ones are the employees of Compassus, a hospice and palliative care provider with locations in Muncie and Indianapolis.
Compassus chose Falls Park for its first program involving the release of the flame-retardant, biodegradable lanterns, upon which family members were able to write their names, the names of their loved ones and any messages they wish to send skyward.
“We were trying to think of something meaningful to do,” Compassus Chaplain Tim Overton said.
The staff and patients’ families get very close because of the nature of the services they provide, and annual gatherings provide an opportunity to reconnect.
Compassus has conducted previous gatherings at their individual locations, but this year the staff wanted the services to be even more special, and they succeeded, he said.
“It was just a good time of reunion and remembrance,” Overton said.
Carol Lingle, whose husband, Garland “Pete” Lingle, died earlier in the year, agreed it was a special time.
She and her daughter, Jeanne Luttrull, joined the group to honor their husband and father.
Lingle said she liked “Just the thought of putting it (the lantern) up there with him, with his name on it. We were married 61 years, and it’s hard.”
Her daughter said she has never seen any service like it before.
“I think it’s very nice,” she said.
Scott Dalton from Yorktown, who was there honoring his father-in-law Michael Stiles, said he appreciated the event.
“It is nice,” he said, “That they put something together for the families.”
Reprinted with permission courtesy of the Times-Post (www.pendletontimespost.com)
This article originally appeared in Everyday Compassion magazine. To browse full issues of the magazine, click here.