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Bitterroot Community Memorial Service helps community remember loved ones
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Bitterroot Community Memorial Service helps community remember loved ones

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Sapphire Lutheran Homes and Marcus Daly Hospice are organizing a Bitterroot Community Memorial Service on Thursday, July 22, for the community to remember and celebrate the lives of loved ones who passed away during 2020 and 2021.

Dominic Farrenkopf, director of community life at Sapphire Lutheran Homes, said the event brings closure.

“Many people did not get to have a full memorial service due to COVID restrictions,” Farrenkopf said. “We will give everyone the chance to gather as friends and neighbors in the community and remember those we lost. I feel it will be a very healing event and a chance for us to come together as a community.”

Michelle Meyer, licensed hospice social worker at Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital, said for many community members being unable to mourn the loss of a loved one due to the stress and strife of COVID-19 restrictions has made their loss difficult and lonely.

“It can be difficult to handle grief and loss when someone hasn’t been able to mourn and celebrate the life of their loved one,” she said. “So we wanted to offer the community an event where they can come together to honor someone they’ve lost and see they’re not alone.”

A traditional memorial or ritual is important when going through grief.

Jennifer Dunn, Marcus Daly's director of hospice, said gathering with family and friends to celebrate the life of a loved one is a normal step in the grieving process and can help bring comfort and peace.

“Pandemic restrictions left many without closure,” Dunn said. “We appreciate Sapphire Lutheran Homes for joining with us to host this community event to help families remember and begin the healing process.”

Attendees may sign a guest book and have their loved one’s name read during the service, enjoy an invocation, special readings, music and refreshments. Bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on during the service, there will be a few chairs available.

The memorial service is scheduled for 7 p.m. on the lawn of Sapphire Lutheran Homes, 501 N. 10th St., Hamilton, to provide space for everyone to spread out. There will be plenty of street parking and a golf cart will be available for shuttling in community members needing extra assistance in walking.

The service will be performed by Pastor Paul Anderson, Marcus Daly's hospice chaplain, Farrenkopf said.

“I’ll read a poem, there will be music and then we’ll read the names and light a candle for each person,” Farrenkopf said.

For Farrenkopf, remembering those we lost will provide closure.

“It affects me on a personal level because I wasn’t able to travel to my sister’s memorial service last November due to COVID,” he said. “I will be able to say my sister’s name next Thursday and remember her. The service will be very moving for a lot of people and it will be very personal for me.”

Sapphire Lutheran Homes is a Christian-oriented, nonprofit retirement center, with a mission of providing compassionate, innovative services and amenities, enabling seniors to maintain and enhance their quality of life.

Marcus Daly Hospice provides education, support and medical care to preserve and promote quality of life for individuals and families during this last phase of life.

The memorial service sponsors are Brothers Mortuary, Daly Leach Chapel, Flower Happy, Super One Foods, Sweet Pea Septic, Yellow Seahorse Recordings and Jeepfisher Films.

For more information, contact Farrenkopf at 406-363-2800, or Dunn at JDunn@mdmh.org or 406-375-4749.

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