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Service allows mourners time to reflect

Jan 30, 2013 05:56AM ● Published by Community News Service

By Mike Steele

On Dec. 16, the chapel at St. Mary’s Church hosted an annual Blue Christmas service, a memorial service and grief workshop for mourners dealing with some sort of loss.

The event was organized by Bordentown Home for Funerals owner Robert L. Pecht first began offering a Hope and Healing service for his clients seven years ago.

“The service is to hopefully inspire people to want to get out of bed and enjoy their lives,” he said.

“I would talk a little bit about grief. It just sort of evolved from Hope and Healing to a Blue Christmas.”

Pecht organized the service in conjunction with Father Mike Burns of St. Mary’s Church and Fr. Matt Tucker and Deacon Tom Shea of Christ Episcopal Church to provide a non-denominational Christian service and workshop for mourners.

“Everybody believes in something their own way, so we don’t want anyone to feel excluded because they might not be Catholic or they might not be Baptist,” Pecht said.

At the service, mourners were treated to a variety of inspirational readings, prayers and meditations by Pecht and the clergyman. Mourners also completed two writing exercises: one in which they adorned wreaths with notes explaining why they were grieving and the second in which they wrote letters to themselves in the voices of those who they were mourning. Pecht will mail the letters to the mourners during the Easter season.

“Spring has always been a symbol of rebirth,” Pecht said. “By you writing from that person’s voice, you’re getting that letter from that person.”

Some mourners attended alone and others came with the support of family members or friends. Many entered the chapel in tears and cried quietly to themselves before the start of the event.

Those in attendance completed the writing exercises without much discussion, writing and praying privately to themselves. Rather than being a social event, the service was a time for most attendees to reflect individually on their own feelings.

Approximately 20 people attended this year’s service, and Pecht noted that not everyone there was necessarily grieving a death.

“Grief comes in all shapes and sizes,” Pecht said. “The loss of a pet, a divorce somebody unfortunately being diagnosed with an incurable disease…”

Pecht said that many funeral homes will offer holiday-time memorial services, and noted that through the years, he has realized that in addition to remembering their loved ones, grievers are also in need of a set of tools to work through their pain.

He emphasized that grief is something everyone will experience throughout their entire lives in many different ways.

“You’re running late to work and there’s a guy in the left hand lane who decides that he wants to do 40 miles per hour, your boss is driving you nuts, your children are driving you nuts — all of these things are part of grief,” he said.

“If you’re not able to work your way through the smaller things that we deal with on a day to day basis, then how are you supposed to be able to handle these monumental events that happen in your life?” Pecht asked.

Pecht hopes that the service has provided some comfort and tools people can use to combat their feelings of grief, or at the very least, he hopes the mourners feel a sense of compassion from being together.

“This is really just for people to have an ability to go somewhere, feel at peace, and realize that they are not the only ones who are going through some sort of difficult time,” he said.

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