2016 saw the 13th year that Chaplain Carrie Applegath and I have collobrated on the annual Sick Kids Memorial Service for Edinburgh Sick Kids Hospital. It is a privilege to be part of this. The service is for those of faith or no faith and is for all ages. Numbers have grown steadily since we began moving from 40/60 people to around 150. This has meant having to adapt our use of space and how we do things, not least when we found out we could no longer light individual candles. However the service has remained predominantly the same.
Each year the service has a different theme. This year it was ‘Butterflies’ – for fleeting moments we see their colour and beauty and then they are gone. The simple structure of the service consists of several poems, specially written, that acknowledge the pain of grief and loss, enable quite refection and hope to offer light for the journey. Two central parts of the service are the twenty minutes of making – decorating / writing on the butterflies – and the reading of the names of those to be remembered
It was lovely this year to meet a family just a day prior to the service – they have been regularly for the past few years – who said they were looking forward to it. It seemed an odd thing to say, but I was glad to hear it. On the one hand no one wants to really be there because they have lost a young loved one, but it is a sad reality that exists for many. Thus, it is important to have a place to remember, to hear a name spoken aloud and to celebrate beautiful young lives however short. To do this corporately with friends, family or simply to be with others who understand is what this service hopes to offer.