Early on Christmas Eve one year, a morning choked in a thick frost and freezing temperatures, I took the funeral of a lady who had died suddenly, leaving her husband and children in complete shock. As I waited outside the chapel and watched the hearse drive slowly down the drive, I was thinking of that small congregation behind me, huddled in pews, in dark winter coats, silent with sadness. A family going home without mum. They would see her in all their memories of Christmases gone but know that she would never be in any to come.

On Saturday, this family was in my mind as we held our first Christmas memorial event of the year at Shoobridge Funeral Services in Honiton. It was an open morning for people to come and write the names of their loved ones on a star and hang it on the tree in our chapel. As families arrived, there was a mixture of emotions. There was happiness as we caught up, after journeying with them at a very difficult time in their lives; and then there was the outpouring of sadness at Christmas without mum or dad, or a husband or a wife.

It is important to us that we provide a place for people to come to remember at this time. This week and next, we will hold reflective services full of beautiful music, fitting poetry and the names of loved ones. Our Exmouth service is tonight (Wednesday) at 7.30pm (Salvation Army Hall, Sheppards Row) and our Honiton service is on December 12th at 7.30pm (5, Reme Drive, Heathpark). I am also honoured to lead East Devon Crematorium’s service (December 7th at 6.30pm). Please see our website for more details.

Shoobridge Funeral Services is also sponsoring and taking part in Hospiscare’s Light up a Life events. The last two are at Cullompton on Sunday (December 10 at 3pm) and Exeter Cathedral (December 20 at 6.45pm).

For all those grieving families we have worked with, and for all the ones we have not, there is a place for you and there is support at this difficult time of year.

“Remember. Grief came to you because love came first. Love came first.”

Abigail Price is funeral celebrant with Shoobridge Funeral Services, working with families to deliver bespoke ceremonies across East Devon and Exeter.