Light Up a Life: Virtual services will bring people together to remember their loss

Counsellor Christa Friend, who will be leading the North Devon Hospice Light Up a Life service for 2

Counsellor Christa Friend, who will be leading the North Devon Hospice Light Up a Life service for 2020, placing a star on the hospice tree. Picture: NDH - Credit: NDH

For more than 20 years the annual Light Up a Life appeal has given local people the opportunity to come together in remembering someone they love, with more than a dozen remembrance services taking place across North Devon in the build-up to Christmas.

While the physical services are not possible this year, North Devon Hospice and Children’s Hospice South West, the two charities behind the local Light up a Life appeal, will each be broadcasting a special service for people to watch in the comfort and safety of their own homes.

North Devon Hospice’s Light up a Life service will be broadcast live on Facebook and on the hospice’s website at 6pm on Friday, December 11 and will be led by hospice counsellors Miranda Broadhead and Christa Friend.

Christa, who has supported people at the hospice for nearly 20 years, said: “I think one of the best things about the service being online is that it will be accessible to a much wider audience.

“This means we can join together with others who are experiencing similar feelings of loss and grief.


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“It will create space to pause and remember together, because at Christmas in particular, which mostly revolves around family and traditions, we can feel that sense of loss far more acutely.”

The events of 2020 mean that most of us have been coping with loss in one way or another this year.

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So the Light up a Life service is all the more special, as here is an opportunity to acknowledge the losses that we have all endured and realise we that are not alone.

Christa added: “Loss isn’t just about bereavement. Many of us are currently experiencing the loss of not being able to go where we want to go, not being able to see people, not being able to hug, not being able to just ‘be’ with those whom we love. All of this is loss.”

Part of Christa’s role at North Devon Hospice is on the Bedded Unit, where people come for help in managing difficult symptoms or for end of life care.

She says the events of this year have made it the most challenging experience of her career.

She said: “It’s so difficult having to wear PPE when holding the hand of someone who is dying.

“In more than 40 years of being a counsellor, these have been the hardest times, but then that’s the same for everyone, which is why Light up a Life will hopefully bring us all some comfort.”

This sense of loss has certainly extended to Christa’s own life and she said: “Seeing our grandchildren run toward us, only to have to stop, has been one of the most painful experiences of lockdown.

“So I decided to put a rubber glove, stuffed with packaging, on the end of the pole! Then we could hold an end each and use that to play games together, albeit from a distance! It was our own way of coping, and I know other people who came up with many different ideas too.”

Christa hopes that people watching the Light up a Life service this year will share a sense of togetherness, even though they may be apart.

She explained: “We know of people with families in America and Australia who were expecting to be together this Christmas, and that’s a real loss for them.

“But they will be watching the Light up a Life service together, from wherever they are in the world, and my hope is that this will unite families, allowing them to be part of something much bigger together.”

To watch North Devon Hospice’s special Light up a Life service, please visit facebook.com/northdevonhospice/live or northdevonlightupalife.co.uk. Tune in just before 6pm on Friday, December 11, as the service will begin at 6pm promptly.

A service will also be broadcast from Little Bridge House in Fremington for Children’s Hospice South West at 7pm on the same day.

To remember someone you love as part of the Light up a Life appeal, you can light a star in their honour on the hospice’s Tree of Remembrance. Please visit treeofremembrance.co.uk.

To make a donation to either hospice for the Light Up a Life appeal, go to www.lual.co.uk.

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