More than 300 balloons filled the afternoon sky recently carrying messages to deceased loved ones, as part of a memorial service held at Christ United Methodist Church in Wheeling.
Families who lost loved ones during the past year, from Sept. 1, 2011, through Aug. 31, 2012, were invited by Kepner Funeral Homes to reflect, remember and honor their loved ones during the 15th annual memorial service.
"This memorial service is our way of letting our families know that their loved one is not forgotten," said Jim Kepner, president of Kepner Funeral Homes. "It's an important part of the healing process to have opportunities to join as a community and remember those who have died."
Families participate in a balloon launch to remember their deceased loved ones during a recent memorial service in Wheeling.
This year's service offered something new - a simultaneous launch of 300 balloons in which families scripted a personal message to their deceased relative.
"Smiles quickly dried teary eyes as families watched their balloon ascend to the heavens," noted Alex Kepner, manager of Kepner Funeral Homes.
During the service, Carole Tarr, bereavement coordinator at Valley Hospice, spoke to attendees about the healing process, and John W. Kepner, past president of Kepner Funeral Homes, read a poem that comforted his wife and himself when their daughter Julie passed away 22 years ago. The poem was also imprinted on a small trivet that was presented to the families in attendance as a memorial gift. The memorial service concluded with a slide show scrolling the names of the deceased, set to inspirational music.