For about 16 years now, South Mississippians have gathered for a special service at Riemann Funeral Home to remember loved ones who have passed away.
"This is a world of passing things- a veil of tears. But in Scripture, Jesus gives us a promise of hope," said Deacon Charles Nutter of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church.
"It gives them opportunity to come and join with others who have gone through the same experiences. And so they come and support one another, and then I think gathering together like this and through what the minister will be sharing, the music - it will touch their hearts and just give them the opportunity to see that there are people out there who support them still, especially at this time of year in the Christmas season," said Riemann Funeral Home manager David Gunn.
This service of remembrance allowed those in attendance to light a candle for the deceased.
But the flame not only honors the lives of those lost, but pays tribute to the strength, determination and courage of the survivors.
And because of Hurricane Katrina, these survivors, many of whom have been attending these memorial services for years, found something a little different this year- the absence of the tree of remembrance.
"For 16 years, we've been doing a tree of remembrance, we invite families to bring ornaments to place them on the tree during the service. And so each year we place the ornaments out and families will come and find their ornament from previous years and then during the service they place them on the tree," said Gunn.
Many of the ornaments were lost during Katrina, so this year, the group was encouraged to find their cherished ornaments and take them home for the holidays- just as a reminder that their loved ones continue to be in their presence, even in the smallest way.
If you would like to light a candle in memory of a loved one this holiday season, another Candlelight Service of Remembrance will be held at 3 p.m. next Sunday at Riemann's location on Highway 49 in Gulfport.