The History of "Light Up A Life"


Often, images of winter holidays seen on television, in movies, and in advertising show happy people celebrating their traditions with their loved ones. But what if a loved one has died? Incorporating loved ones who are no longer living into holiday traditions was the basis for Hospice SLO County's first Light Up A Life remembrance ceremony.

Light Up A Life in SLO County was started by Jackie Vincent and Marcy Adams. They went to visit the Santa Barbara Volunteer Hospice to see their December Light Up A Life tree lighting ceremony. They were so moved that the very next year (1984) they had a local ceremony.  It was so well received that within a few years most cities in our county wanted a ceremony. At one point, with much volunteer help, they had 12 ceremonies! 

Each city's local volunteer chairperson created a program that reflected their city’s character.  For instance, Pismo met at the ocean for several years, San Luis was (and still is) at the historic Mission, and Paso Robles gathered at their big central public park.

Many attended, each lighting a candle for their loved one, singing songs of remembrance, listening for their loved ones names read from the city’s Hospice Memorial book, and finally lighting the tree.  It was all very moving and such a lovely way to connect, especially during the challenging holiday season.

After our pet loss program, Pet Peace of Mind, was started in 2012, Light Up A Life grew to include a special, stand-alone ceremony to remember the love and relationship between humans and their animal companions. It was named Paws to Remember. The name was a pet version of taking time to "Pause" and remember those lost during the holidays.