This Little Light of Mine – A Cherished Memory Lamp

by Jerri Haaven, Certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Celebrant

The loss of someone we love seems to steal our hopes and dreams. An unspoken weight of grief robs our happiness, and depletes our energy. This short or long-term situation is likened to a black hole where darkness pervades and prevails. One minute the light is on, and the next minute the light is extinguished - not only from the one who died, but from ourselves as the light departs our spirit.

The rock band Disturbed recently released a remake of the 60’s classic “The Sound of Silence.” One particular verse captures the poignant and numbing effects of grief.

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
No one dare
Disturb the sound of silence


Grievers, in many ways, experience this same void-like orientation. People talk, and the bereaved hears mottled words. The classic Charlie Brown television cartoons depict an adult speaking to Charlie Brown, and all he hears is garbled noise – a painfully accurate portrayal. When we share our raw grief and memories, it’s as though no one really hears the depth of our pain.

How can we help someone who lives in a momentary void and darkness? Flowers and food, of course, are traditional favorites. But if you are looking for a more symbolic and uplifting option, consider giving a gift of light. Memory lamps, sometimes called sympathy lamps, are becoming known as a wonderful way to offer a long lasting and meaningful sympathy gift.

The classic children’s gospel song called “This Little Light of Mine” has been reproduced by many artists. The Boys’ Choir of Harlem, Bruce Springstein, Raffi, and many more have performed various versions of the song. The music and lyrics – in diverse interpretations - have the capacity to reconstruct experiences and memories in such a way to conjure hope and strength.

Memories coupled with the gentle light of a lamp or candle ground us in comfort. When I think of light, it’s the promise of a new day. A new beginning. And hope that the sun will rise again. Memory lamps provide the bereaved with such a symbol of promise and hope. They are a unique way in which to bring a little light into their lives.

Selecting a memory lamp

What’s the best way to go about choosing the right lamp? Start with a few considerations, such as:

  • What style and size appear appropriate for the bereaved?
  • Is there enough space in the home?
  • Would a particular theme be fitting, such as religious, or a nature theme?
  • What colors reflect the deceased, or the bereaved?

The Tiffany style butterfly lamp, though not intended to store ashes, provides a lovely light for a small space. The multi-colored glass allows it to fit in almost any color scheme. This is one of many memory lamps available.

The Cherub memory lamp

The tragic loss of a child creates a void that will never be filled. There is no script as to what to say or do for parents who lost a child. Finding a way to affirm their deep sense of loss is the most we can do.

Perhaps offering a simple gift might be enough to express a wish to honor the family. The Cherub memory lamp offers such warmth.

Light has comforted humans since the beginning of time. Candles, especially, have been used in times of distress and grief. Over the last few decades, candles have been a popular choice as a gift. Now memory lamps offer an alternative, and a lasting comfort and presence.  


Jerri Haaven is a freelance writer, and a certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Celebrant. When caring for her dad, who suffered from dementia and COPD, Jerri struggled with the negative side effects of his illness. She developed positive outlets to express herself and recover from her loss. Today as a certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Celebrant, she uses her skills to help people who are in the midst of their own personal story of grief and loss.

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