The festive season can be a time of dread for some families as it means an empty seat at the table when a loved person has died.

Hospice Whanganui held a special remembrance service at Christ Church Anglican in Whanganui on Sunday to support people coping with grief and loss at Christmas.

"It is a ceremony where losses can be acknowledged, grief can be shared and mutual support can be given in a caring and understanding environment," said Hospice social worker Louise Rostron.

She is about to take early retirement after organising the services for the past 11 years.


Tracey Cropp will be stepping into the role and attended her first service on Sunday.

"I have big shoes to fill and this is one of the many wonderful things Louise has been doing."

Volunteer Margaret Rowan has also been involved with the service for a number of years, putting the candle and floral displays together.

"Since I started doing this, I experienced my own loss so I know how important they are for people."

Fragrant roses from the Hospice Whanganui gardens were artfully arranged on a table with candle holders filled with candles for visitors to light.

"I bring some roses from my own garden as well and people take them home with them or some like to place them where their loved ones are buried."

Reverend David Bebarfald led the service, Roger Little played Christ Church's classic organ and vocalist Anna Podjursky sang her version of The Climb.