The holiday season is a time for reuniting with those you care about most.
But for families who have lost loved ones, Christmas isn't always so bright. That's why this year one mother harnessed the Christmas spirit to honor those who have passed.
As the sun set on Evergreen Memorial Park, the memories began to rise, as flames carried up the handmade lanterns towards the heavens.
“Quite of few of us have sons, daughters, family members that can't be here for Christmas,” said Anita Ferguson, who lost her son. “So if they can't be here, why not bring Christmas to them.”
“Got some lanterns and we are sending them to all of our family and friends in heaven,” she said. “It's one of the first Christmases that I've been able to do anything because of grief.”
NOTE: Doing this is currently against Virginia ordinance, though one can reach out to the fire department or police to see if it is allowed in their county. It is definitely not allowed in Richmond.
Grief is something Ferguson is still dealing with after a 2010 car accident that took the life of her son Elden Cox and two of his friends as they were on their way back from a vacation.
“It's the fact that he can't be here for Christmas and it was one of his most enjoyable occasions.”
She hopes this vigil will ease her pain and that of others just like her, including Jennifer Robertson who lost her son Trey, who was also in a car accident.
“You learn to adjust,” said Robertson.” You just come out here and do little symbolic things like this and hope that maybe they can reach down from heaven and get it and let them know that we are all here with them.”
They know Christmas will never be the same without their love ones but they also know there is a light that shines brightly above them.
The Ferguson family plans to host a vigil like this for lost loved ones, for years to come.