Grieving families bereaved by suicide joined together for a moving service of remembrance in Limavady at the weekend, writes Sheena Jackson.
The poignant service consisted of carols from The Salvation Army, and readings by members of the Roe Valley Bereaved by Suicide Support Group.
On Sunday, at the event in the Roe Park Resort, families wrote messages they attached to a memory tree of lights “for those we love”.
Group facilitator Colleen Dall says the support group started four years ago.
“This is the third Memory Tree of Lights, and we’re up and running about four years. The ceremony is a marker at Christmas for families because that is when it’s hardest for families left behind.” said Ms Dall. “The support the group has and what it means, well for some people it really is a lifeline. There are some people who live for that second Tuesday each month for the meeting.
“They know they will be with people who are going through exactly the same thing at the same time every month.”
Among those at Sunday’s service was Mary Ellen Hayward from Limavady who lost her son Paul six years ago. She says the group is invaluable.
“Christmas is a time when children come home so it’s great to have this service. It is very moving, and it really helps,” said Mary Ellen.
Karen McGonigle from Limavady lost her brother Mark Collins in September 2011. She attends the service each year.
“It is very comforting and I think it is a real help for people. Everyone that is here is here for the same reason, unfortunately, but it does help to know there are others going through what you are,” said Karen.
The Support Group meets in the Roe Valley Arts & Cultural Centre on the second Tuesday of each month at 7.30pm. Ms Dall says attendance fluctuates as people dip in and out, as and when they feel they need to.
“We’ve had people who lost a loved one perhaps 13 years ago to someone as recently as last year. The beauty is that those further along in their grief can help those starting out on their path,” said Ms Dall. “The group is invaluable.”
For information on the Support Group contact Suicide Liaison officer, Barry McGale on 028 71 320138 or Colleen Dall on 07860715718.