Hawthorn's Service of Remembrance

Written by Teresa Dennard.

Unique Service Honors Loved Ones Passed

The Service of Remembrance, presented by Hawthorn Funeral Home, is a memorial candlelight service honoring loved ones who have passed. The program is scheduled for Friday, December 6, at 7:00 pm in the Hawthorn Funeral Chapel. For 19 years, Carlton and Karen Shamburger, along with the staff and Ladies’ Auxiliary of Hawthorn Funeral Home, have invited the bereaved community to this special program in their honor.

“Many people dread the holiday season because of the death of a loved one. It’s no longer about Santa Claus and tinsel--it’s about the real meaning of Christmas. That’s what we bring forth in the program because that’s what gets them through Christmas. They remember the value of family and what family they still have with them.”

Families are invited to bring an ornament in their loved one’s memory to be placed on one of the two 13-foot trees. Each year the trees become more sacred as so many ornaments adorn the branches in remembrance. “We also adorn the trees with the many cards and letters of thanks we receive from the families we serve,” says Shamburger. “It’s such an encouragement to us.” The program includes a devotional by Bro. Pete Williams, Hawthorn Chaplain, scriptures, a reading of the names and special vocalists and musicians. The performers for this season will be Nikki Causey and Mike Parker.

Causey is a wife to Jason and mother to Bryce and Canon. She comes to Carthage from Oklahoma and has lived here eight years. She is an RN working for Heartsway Hospice in Carthage. “I first heard Nikki sing at First Baptist Church where she and I attend,” says Shamburger, “and she received a standing ovation. Her voice is exceptionally clear, melodic and strong. I was so excited when she agreed to sing this year. She is a blessed addition to the Carthage community.” Mike Parker is a dedicated local attorney and has served our community as a member of the Panola County Bar Association most of his life. Parker is married to Karen and they have two sons, Dan and Matt. Mike has a love not only for the guitar and singing, but has crafted songs of his own and recorded many. “He has shared his talent with his community for many years, and we are blessed he is performing with us this year.”

According to Shamburger, “We go to great lengths to decorate because we don’t want the people to feel like it’s a second funeral. We start with a secular song, but not any of the usual funeral songs. The first song will be Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” When entering the chapel, guests are asked to write down the names of those they want to remember. These names are compiled and read during the service, along with the names of all those that have been served by Hawthorn Funeral Home. “We make sure that everybody who’s thinking of someone is read that night. It doesn’t matter what funeral home you used or if you’re from here or not. If you write down a name, we read it during the service. It’s a unique fellowship. Where else can you go where everybody in the room understands where your heart is? When your spouse dies you feel like you’re the only one that doesn’t have a spouse. Everywhere you go it’s different. But in that room, that night, everybody is in the same boat you are.”

Shamburger and Williams first started the service in 1994 with the idea of doing something to give back to the community. The first gathering was small but sweet. Mindy Paschal was the guest soloist and Shamburger’s uncle, Robert Buckner, was the accompanist. “The first year was hysterical. We sent out invitations and nobody knew what a ‘Service of Remembrance’ was. They didn’t understand what we were doing. A couple people that received invitations called just furious and said, ‘Look, we’ve already paid $8,000 for a funeral and we want to know who authorized a second one.’ Of course, when we explained what we were doing, they were all for it. It took about two years to train the community about what we were doing.” Invitations are sent each year, but everyone is invited. “If your sister gets an invitation and you don’t, it’s because we just send to one member of the family and ask them to extend it to all of them.” Bonita Phillips comes every year and prints names of the loved ones in calligraphy on a keepsake program. Also, numerous programs and ornaments are ordered so that if someone else in the family wants one, extras are available.

All are invited to attend. Even if the loved one you wish to honor died in years past, that name will be spoken and remembered.  “We vowed we would continue the service until interest faded, but each year the chapel fills, so we continue to provide this most unique program with such beauty and meaning.”

Photos courtesy of Don's Photography