Greenlawn remembrance tree to memorialize loved ones

Published 11:59 am Monday, December 14, 2020

By HUNTER CLOUD

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Greenlawn Memorial Park has a Remembrance Tree, adorned with ornaments honoring loved ones who have died in the past year, placed in the cemetery’s main office window this Christmas.

Plastic ornaments hang from gold strings on the tree and bear the names and birth and death dates of memoralized loved ones.

Greenlawn Director Page Brown said people who have ordered an ornament can visit the office between Dec. 14 and 17 to place the ornaments on the tree with the name of a loved one who died in the past year.

Four years ago in January, Greenlawn had its first candlelight service to honor people who had died in the previous year. Organizers later moved the annual event to spring, Brown said, because January weather was not suitable.

In 2019, Brown said she decided to do a remembrance tree at Christmastime.

“It is just a sweet expression that I wanted to do for my family, and I felt families would want to do it for their loved ones that they lost as well,” Brown said. “This year I lost my mom, so I was going to stick to it even if COVID doesn’t want us to. It was important to me to have an ornament for her. Christmas was her favorite holiday.”

Greenlawn still has a candlelight service in the spring but the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the event this year.

The Greenlawn Remembrance Tree was another way to help families with the grieving process, Brown said, and it is one of the ways the cemetery staff helps families with their journey following a loss of a loved one.

Started in 1959, Greenlawn is a four-generation family business, which Brown said she grew up with.

The past year during the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a challenge for people greiving the loss of loved ones as large groups of people can’t attend visitations for funerals. Even graveside services are closed casket, Brown said.

“There is an emotional process that everybody goes through depending on their relationship with the deceased,” Brown said. “It does make me want to try harder to help them in that journey. The remembrance tree could be a part of that, but I don’t know how effective it will be. Maybe in some small way it will make it a better part of the journey.”

Ornaments can be ordered by calling 601-442-6103. The ornaments are offered at no charge, and people can stop by the office to pick up the ornaments once the holidays end. The deadline to get an ornament to honor a loved one is Dec. 14 at the latest, Brown said.