By Jason KUROSU
When the Christmas tree towering in Glendale Adventist’s West Tower Lobby was lit up Thursday night, it was said that the light could be seen from miles off. The 20-foot tall tree stood as a testament to those who have passed on this year, as part of Glendale Adventist Medical Center’s annual Light Up a Life tree lighting ceremony.
For every donation made to Glendale Adventist Hospice Services and Bereavement Support Program, an ornament was placed on the tree in remembrance of lost loved ones. This year’s donations amounted to approximately $15,000 with 36 dove ornaments, 35 tree lights, 16 angels and two top stars adorning the tree.
Reverend Alice Parsons Zulli, founder and director of Glendale Adventist Beyond Loss Bereavement Ministry, led the audience in prayer and spoke about the bereavement ministry which, according to Parsons Zulli, has “comforted and companioned 64,000 bereaved persons and facilitated 6,400 grief support groups” since 1990.
“Following the death of a loved one, our assumptive world is shattered,” said Parsons Zulli. “What was, no longer is. Roles change. Friends can no longer be as supportive as we hoped they would be. Eating and sleeping can go awry. Grief is as shocking to the physical, emotional and spiritual systems as being hit by a car. But by aiming our spirits and energy into the heart of grief, we can move through the loss in a healthy way.”
With families coming together for the holiday season, the loss of loved ones weighs heavier, and many of the bereaved were in attendance.
Dr. Edmund Lew, a 26-year member of GAMC’s staff and medical director of GAMC Hospice Services, honored his father Edmund Lew Sr. by making him the 2014 Guardian Angel honoree. Lew explained what made him most proud to be a member of the medical center’s Hospice Services was the ability to provide patients with what he called “a good death.”
“What is a good death?” asked Lew. “No pain, no suffering and [being] at home surrounded by loved ones. I’ve learned that we have an obligation not only to the dying patient but also to their families, to prepare for a good death.”
Dr. Robert L. Marsh was the 2014 Tree Top Star honoree. Marsh served as chairman of the Glendale Adventist Academy board and practiced in Glendale for 37 years.
Dr. Lew and Dr. Marguerite Marsh led the lighting of the candles tribute. Members of the audience were given electronic candles prior to the event, which Lew and Marsh “lit” as they walked down the aisle, touching their candles to those seated.
The Glendale Adventist Academy Chorale sang a number of Christmas carols, including “Silent Night” in memory of Edmund Lew Sr. and “The Christmas Song” in memory of Robert Marsh.
Kevin Roberts, Glendale Adventist president and CEO, read the names of those being remembered prior to the lighting of the tree.
“This is a special tree, not just because of the holidays, but because this tree also represents hope, comfort and remembrance,” said Roberts.