All proceeds support and ensure the continuation of hospice and bereavement programs

Light Up a Life is a thoughtful and heartfelt way to honor memories.

by Lee Sherman

Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association’s “Light Up a Life” event provides comfort, solace and an opportunity for those who have lost someone to honor their loved one’s memory. And the acts of remembrance extend far beyond Ventura County.

I first became aware of Livingston in 2013 when I attended one of their free bereavement and grief counseling group sessions. I lost my younger brother in a car accident many years ago, and it always seems to affect me in a big way around the holidays. In speaking about my loss in the group session and sharing in the grief of others, I found a way to cope with my feelings, improve my outlook and regain my holiday spirit.

Now I am Livingston’s on-staff grant writer and have had the opportunity to “pay-it-forward” by participating in this year’s “Light Up” at Pacific View Mall. This was especially meaningful to me as I lost two dear friends this year, one to prostate cancer and one to pneumonia and both under the age of 50. Unfortunately, due to the timing and circumstances of their deaths I was unable to attend either funeral as they were both in New York and previous family commitments as well as limited finances, made it impossible for me to be there in person. Feeling a bit isolated out here, away from friends and family, I was especially glad to purchase hand-written ornamental stars in honor of their memories and send them back to their families, who I know are going through a very tough holiday season themselves. And while neither of my friends lived in California, both had visited me on several occasions and would be pleased to know they were remembered here. Seeing their stars on the trees, hearing their names read aloud and viewing their photos in our memorial slide show brought me much joy and peace.

And it’s not just an East Coast – West Coast thing. At each “Light Up” event rocks are placed on the chairs in the audience to hold down our paper programs. Each rock has an inspirational word written on it such as “Peace”, “Love”, “Joy” and “Family”. Attendees are free to take them home at the end of the program. Casey O’Neill, daughter of our Director of Community & Professional Relations Mike O’Neill, took one of these rocks with her on her pilgrimage to Santiago Spain. As customary for the Camino de Compostela, she left the memento as an honor to her trek across the northern coast of Spain at the Cathedral of St. Stephen, blending our local tradition with ancient traditions of the past, half a world away.

For those we’ve lost near or far, recently departed or long gone, “Light Up a Life” is a thoughtful and heartfelt way to honor their memories and spread some joy this holiday season. All proceeds support and ensure the continuation of Livingston’s compassionate hospice and bereavement programs throughout Ventura County. If you would like to learn more please visit

Print Friendly, PDF & Email