by Victoria Shea
(December 2018, Plain Press) With nothing but the glow of candle flames and the twinkling lights from the decorated Christmas tree, licensed funeral director Joseph C. Mosinski continued to read. “The flame of the candle symbolizes remembrance,” he read. “As we pass the flame of remembrance from one to another, let this tiny light remind us that together, we will face the holidays as one with love, understanding and hope.”
It is what the staff of Walter Martens & Sons Funeral Home, located on Denison Avenue, hope to do once again on Dec. 15 when they hold their annual Tree of Remembrance ceremony.
Started in 1990 by Mosinski’s late cousin Bernadine Martens, the wife of current owner and funeral director Walter Martens, Jr., the Tree of Remembrance has become a tradition of hope for many of the families the Martens family and staff have served over their seventy plus years of service.
“Bernadine started planning our first program in 1990 following the death of my father,” Martens said. “In December of that year, we held our first ceremony. When she created the program, at first it was about helping our children through their own emotions with the death of their grandfather so close to Christmas. Since then, it has become something much more. It has become a way for the community to come together as remember that even, for a short time, they are not alone on their journey of grief through the holidays. There are others who are grieving just as they are.”
Consisting of two parts, the Tree of Remembrance allows families, regardless of whether or not they were served by Martens, to decorate ornaments in honor of their loved ones. The ornaments are then placed on the tree and is dedicated as part of the service.
Last year’s service, which was just over an hour, featured some changes that were new to the ceremony. In addition to the regular Christmas tree, a small tree was decorated strictly for pregnancy losses, stillborns and infant losses, with those losses’ necrology read separately from the adults. Also, a folded American flag was presented and dedicated in representation of those men and women of the Armed Forces, with that necrology also read separately. Martens said that the feedback received from those in attendance was in favor of the changes made and the staff plans to continue the changes in this year’s program.
This year’s Tree of Remembrance will be held on Saturday, Dec 15 at 5PM at Walter Martens & Sons Funeral Home, 9811 Denison Avenue. The Martens family and staff encourage all those wishing to decorate ornaments for their loved ones are welcomed to do so seven days a week from now until Friday, Dec. 14 from 10AM to 8PM.