Sunday, December 7, 2008

Worldwide candlelighting event

A week from today, Sunday December 14, at 7 p.m. will be the 12th Annual Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting as a tribute to a child who has died, as each time zone lights its candles. The scene is repeated thousands of times around the world and has captured the eye of the world like no other event of its type.

Patricia Loder, executive director of Compassionate Friends, says that this event shows that people from around the world can gather in peace and unity to remember all of the precious children who have died. This is TCF’s gift to the bereavement world and Pat says they are so happy that it has received such universal acceptance.

Visit the Worldwide Candle lighting page on TCF’s national website where there is a brochure with helpful suggestions on how to plan one of these services if none is held in your area. The national office can also be called toll free at 877-969-0010 for information for suggestions or where a service is being held in your area. If you are unable or do not wish to attend a formal service, you are asked simply to light a candle in your home with friends or family. In addition, you may leave a heartfelt message on TCF’s online Remembrance Book opened only on that day.

Last year I attended one of the Children’s Memorial Day Services at a local mortuary. Each year more and more parents attend as they become aware of its existence.

I remember it looked like almost 1,000 people attended on that cold December night in 2007. A variety of people read poems, favorite sayings and said prayers. We all got to file past the Angel of Hope as music played, and we were given white flowers to place at its base. As we made our way back to our seats, we each received a candle, which we lit. We were also given a very soft, cuddly teddy bear to hold on to (and keep) as the names of each child were read who were either buried in that cemetery or who had bought a plaque near the Angel honoring their child.

I could hear sniffling, sobbing and soft talking all around me. As I looked around, I could also see the anguish on the stunned faces of the parents who, in their wildest imagination, never dreamed they would be sitting here with the rest of us. Parents were of all ethnic, cultural and religious affiliations. We were one in that hour that we honored and remembered our children so they will never be forgotten.

Many allied organization joined in the remembrance such as POMC, MISS, MADD and BPUSA. In addition to funeral homes, churches, hospice and local bereavement groups, as well as informal groups meeting in many communities, participation was high.

This ceremony is a powerful message to the world. Wouldn’t it be even more powerful if we could get everyone once a year on this special day to light a candle for all children who have died? I hope that this year you will be able to participate in some way on this memorable day.

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