Luminary program helps grieving family members memorialize those who have died
By David Sharos For The Sun November 15, 2012 9:30AM
Candles light the sidewalks around Friedrich-Jones Funeral home for the luminary event, on Tuesday, November 14, 2012 in Naperville IL. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 19, 2012 12:33PM
For Naperville resident Robert Bishop, the memorial luminary event at Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home in Naperville Wednesday night offered a unique chance to remember his wife.
“My wife Lori died on Sept. 28,” Bishop, 52, said. “The funeral home sent me a letter about having this ceremony and I decided to come. My wife found out she had cancer and they told her she would have maybe six months to live. She died within three weeks.”
Bishop said he and his wife were married just 10 years and that he hoped Wednesday’s memorial would help him find some closure.
“When I heard about this, I felt I had to come,” he said. “I didn’t want her to be alone.”
Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home in Naperville has offered the special memorial program at its facility at 44 S. Mill St. for a few years to help memorialize those who have passed away during the past year.
The luminary program includes hundreds of decorated bags lit with candles on display around the perimeter of the funeral home. Co-owner Stephanie Kastelic said this was the 15th year for the program, which usually honors an average of about 400 families a year served by the funeral home.
“We put labels on each of the bags and arrange them in alphabetical order so they are easy for families to find,” Kastelic said. “We encourage people to decorate or personalize their bags any way they wish, and some of them are quite elaborate with poems or photos or a special note. We want there to be open participation and for this event to serve as a part of the healing process.”
The luminary program also included an open house at the funeral home and a memorial service. Kastelic said the idea was to make the event “as inclusive as possible.”
“Since everyone is not religious, people can just drive by if they wish, or stop and come into the funeral home,” she said.
Lisa Sutton on Plainfield said she thought the luminary program was a great idea.
She lost her husband, Kent, on Jan. 2.
“My husband was only 52 years old and he died of a sudden heart attack,” Sutton said as she started to tear up. “We were married 28 years, and I needed to drop by bag off. I’m coming back with my mother-in-law. He was her youngest son. Closure for me has been tough as this was all so sudden and unexpected and our family has certainly changed a lot, but this is a good way to remember him.”
Another Naperville resident who was widowed recently was Marilee Casazza, who said she was married to her husband Marvin for 45 years. Casazza said her husband passed away on April 17 and on that day, she received three other phone calls regarding others who had died. Her own luminary, she said, “was a family project.”
“My three kids and my four grandchildren all worked on it,” she said. “We even had a 4-year-old that took part in it. My daughter found a poem she thought was appropriate and added that.”
While most of those in attendance Wednesday had suffered the death of a family member this year, others, like Maggie Bradley and her husband Tom of Country Club Hills, said they have made the event an annual part of their calendar.
“I lost both my mother and father, who lived here in Naperville, within 15 months,” Maggie said. “They died about nine years ago, and they actually used to play bridge with the owners of the funeral home here. We’ve come back nearly all of the years since and we see other people we’ve met over the years. The services they have here are wonderful, and it’s a good way to remember my parents.”