Each and every day, The Living Legacy Foundation is humbled by the compassion and generosity of our donors and their families. Without these individuals, we would be unable to fulfill our mission of saving and enhancing lives through organ and tissue donation and transplantation. Though there are no words or gestures that can truly express the depth of our gratitude, one small way we honor donors and their families is through the Ceremony of Remembrance.
On Sunday, June 2, The LLF held its annual Ceremony of Remembrance to celebrate all of our organ and tissue donors and their families. This annual event allows us to come together as a donation community to honor and remember the legacy of life left by our donors and to reflect on this year’s theme “With the Love you Left Behind”. The ceremony was well attended with approximately 800 family members, community members, LLF staff, and volunteers.
We were grateful to have two recipients available to speak. Danette Ragin shared her kidney transplant story with the audience and Allison Sklarew shared her heart transplant story. Both of their stories were reflective of their gratitude to be given a second chance and all the positive ways their lives have been transformed since they received their transplants.
A new addition this year was a children’s grief workshop held in the kid’s room during the ceremony. This was led by our colleague, Susan, from the Hospice of the Chesapeake. Almost 30 children were involved in sharing their emotions and building a “healing heart” for them to take home.
We also received feedback from multiple family members expressing how meaningful the ceremony was to them. Some families have asked for copies of what our presenters shared and our recipient presentations. Below, we share those poems and readings.
By David Harkins
Adapted for the LLF Ceremony of Remembrance
We can shed tears that they are gone
Or smile because they were here
We can close our eyes and pray they’ll come back
Or open our eyes and see all they left for us
Our hearts can be empty because we can’t see them
Or they can be full of the love we shared
We can turn our backs on tomorrow and live in yesterday
Or be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday
We can remember them and only focus on them being gone
Or cherish their memory and help it live on
We can cry, close our minds, and turn our backs in sorrow
Or we can do what they’d want
Smile, open our eyes, love, live …….. and go on
May You Find Serenity
Credit provided for excerpts from full text, with other original words by Karen Kennedy
May you find serenity and tranquility in a world we may not always understand. May the pain of your loss ultimately give you the strength to keep walking and face new challenges with courage and optimism. Always know there are those whose love will be there for you, even when you feel most alone. May a kind word, a reassuring touch, and a warm smile grace you every day of your life going forward.
May you find the strength to carry on and see the future as one filled with promise and possibility and be guided by the love and the legacy of your beloved, whose love has been left behind.
Just a Memory Away
By Rita Beer
I’m no longer by your side, but there’s no need to weep
I’ve left sweet memories I am hoping you will keep
Our joys and our memories stay in our hearts forever
Strengthening our special bond that parting cannot sever
Now it is time to carry on, so let your faith be strong
For I have gone to another place and am now where I belong
And as my loss brings you sorrow and dismay
Please don’t despair for I am here – just a memory away
By Rebecca Helbein
You leave behind such memories that loved ones hold dear
They’ll take those down the path of their lives, though right now that path seems unclear
Today we gather together as you watch from above
And learn to walk a new life path, now lit with your love
Your light will never really fade, it actually gets brighter every day
As you lead them down their path of life, and show them how to carry on and lead the way
So continue your journey today, dear friends, and keep working through the pain
Your loved one’s light still shines bright and will guide you again and again