The deaths of six members of a Nova Scotia family in a camper fire two weeks ago was described by mourners Friday as an unfathomable tragedy.
Hundreds of friends, family members and strangers gathered outside at Victoria Square in Amherst to remember the Sears-Robertson family.
Describing the loss as "incomprehensible," Rev. Will Ferry said it was important that the community mourn together while observing public health guidelines.
On Sept. 12, firefighters discovered the bodies of R.J. Sears, 30, and Michelle Robertson, 28, along with children Madison, 11; Ryder, 8; Jaxson, 4; and C.J., 3, while responding to a report of a camper fire in a remote area of Millvale.
The family had been staying in the camper for the weekend. The fire has since been ruled as accidental.
Molly Ferdinand, a friend of the family, delivered the eulogy at the service.
"There was never for one moment a question of how much these children were loved," she said.
"One child gone is too many, four plus two is beyond what our hearts and minds can comprehend."
Ferdinand remembered Sears as a good person and described Robertson as a "spitfire" who, even as a child, was strong and fiercely protective of her family. The couple always looked out for each other, she said, and made the children their first priority even when going through difficult times.
She said the family made many wonderful memories this summer and it was the first time she had seen them so close and happy.
Another friend of the family, Grace McKellar, said she and her husband are forever grateful they met the couple a decade ago.
She described Sears as 100 per cent himself all the time and recalled one of the funnier lessons that Robertson taught her — not to leave a jar of live crickets meant for reptile food within the reach of a toddler.
Addressing the children at the gathering, Rev. Don Miller said the family had spent the day having fun and was now together forever.
"Even though it's sad, it can make you feel better knowing that they're not alone," he said before releasing a blue star-shaped balloon that disappeared into an almost cloudless sky.
Speaking after the event, Mayor David Kogon of Amherst said he was very proud of the town staff for working with the funeral home to arrange the service and ensuring public health measures were observed.
He said the service was an important part of the grieving process.
"It's going to take a long time for the adults to get over this," he said.
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