When the Barrie area lost a firefighter and a police office this summer literally thousands of people mourned privately and publicly in extremely large funerals. The loss was a personal one for the families of Bill Wilkins and Al Kuzmich and a public one for the community at large.

It was a tender loss for the firefighters and the police officers who worked with the frontline rescue workers who called these men their colleagues.

Earlier this spring, the horror of last September 11 continued as the country lost four of its young military men, killed unnecessarily in Afghanistan.

Every day, behind closed curtains, emergency workers, hospice workers, medical staff, caregivers, spouses, children, siblings deal with death and loss. The spouse of an Alzheimers patient lives with a stranger, grieving silently about a new life that has no sound sleep ever attached to it. A woman who’s been diagnosed with breast cancer and in between chemo treatments is flying east to the bedside of her sister, dying of the same disease.

Grief is all around us. And inside us.

As September 11 takes on its new significance, members of Barrie’s grief community have mobilized to offer a Service of Remembrance. Designed for frontline rescue workers and their families, support workers, people who work alone and deal with loss, people who care, the service will gather at the Dorian Centre on Sunnidale Rd and piper Adrian Stocks will lead the procession to the Memorial Gardens at Sunnidale Park.

A simple service will involve remarks by Mayor Perri, music by Alec Stuart, Heather Kelly, Maggie Tortelli, Ed Healey and Pauline Gordon. Barrie poet Terry McGarry will read from his work. A drumming call will take people to the labyrinth at Sunnidale Park where speakers working with loss will each give a message of inspiration. Barb Marshall will talk about the Fall Equinox and its healing power.

Because organizers have opened this event to the entire community, planning for specific numbers is a real challenge. Stephen Michael of Michael Enterprise is bringing his sound transmission expertise to the event and providing all the equipment needed to amplify and record the service.

Kathi Kelly, bereavement coordinator at Hospice Simcoe, says it’s important that the service be meaningful in its simplicity. By using Earth Drum’s and the piper’s powerful sound, people will have the choice to enter or stay close by the labyrinth while the service itself is held. For people unable to walk to the Memorial Gardens, complete transmission to the Dorian Centre will occur.

So many Barrie companies have made donations to enable this event to occur. Lumieres have been donated by Ste Marie Among the Hurons; Wal Mart, Canadian Tire, Tim Hortons are all helping with equipment and refreshments. Peggy Wong, Simcoe Building materials, The Barrie Advance are all lending time, space, product, cooperation to the event. Rogers Cable is televising the service. And major sponsors are Hospice, Seasons Centre, The Advance and RVH.

From 6 to 8 pm, people in this community will be able to gather together, to remember the horror of a year ago, to appreciate the power of being with other people, to grieve, to remember, to say ‘thanks.’

An incredible amount of work for the simplicity of remembering.

Thanks to the energy behind this event.

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