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Viewfinder: Families gather for candlelight vigil service

Sarah Simmons prays with her daughter Rhonda Binns, left, and other people that have family members buried at Greenlawn Memorial Park Cemetery during a candlelight vigil held to honor those family members memories. Simmons lost her husband James in October. Being able to pray with others that are grieving as well made the evening special. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Sarah Simmons prays with her daughter Rhonda Binns, left, and other people that have family members buried at Greenlawn Memorial Park Cemetery during a candlelight vigil held to honor those family members memories. Simmons lost her husband James in October. Being able to pray with others that are grieving as well made the evening special. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ The candlelight vigil at Greenlawn Memorial Park Cemetery was intended by new owners Page Beasley Brown and Randy Brown to be an event to honor those that are buried there and a way to meet their families.

For Sarah Simmons, it was that and so much more.

Simmons and her daughter Binns bring their candles to Simmons’ husband and Binns’ father James Simmons’ grave. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Simmons and her daughter Binns bring their candles to Simmons’ husband and Binns’ father James Simmons’ grave. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

The evening began with a small crowd of family members of those buried at the park gathering in a circle and receiving candles.

Once everyone had a candle, Randy Brown began to read Bible verses. Simmons and her daughter, Rhonda Binns, huddled together. Simmons began to tear up.

Her husband James Simmons of 33 years died in October.

“James was absolutely one of a kind,” Simmons said. “He was always himself, and everyone loved him for it.”

His loss has been difficult to bear.

“I miss him more than I could ever say,” Simmons said. “I am miserable, everything at our house reminds me of him.”

Simmons goes out to the cemetery at least twice a week to visit her husband’s grave, but there is little she can do to escape her sadness.

Saturday night’s ceremony was helpful, though.

“Even though it doesn’t change how I feel, it felt like therapy,” Simmons said.

Before the vigil, families mingled inside the cemetery office giving them the chance to get to know one another and talk about their deceased loved ones.

It was this sense of community that made the evening special for Simmons.

“It was really nice to talk to people that have gone through the same things that I am,” she said. “I felt like we were praying together — for each other and for each other’s loved ones.

“And James could definitely hear us.”