Candles will glow on Sunday, December 9 when tens of thousands of bereaved parents, siblings, grandparents, relatives, and friends around the globe will join together to light remembrance candles to honor the memories of children who have died, but will never be forgotten.
Held annually the second Sunday in December, this will be the 16th Worldwide Candle Lighting sponsored by The Compassionate Friends (TCF), the nation’s largest self-help bereavement organization for families that have suffered the tragic loss of a child. TCF has more than 650 chapters in the United States, with sister organizations in at least 30 countries around the globe.
“This is a way of uniting together to remember all children around the world who have died too soon,” says Compassionate Friends Executive Director Patricia Loder, herself a twice bereaved parent, as well as a bereaved sibling. “The Worldwide Candle Lighting is one way that we try to bring light out of darkness during this difficult time of the year. Like a ring, this circle of light surrounding the globe represents that there is no beginning and no end for the love we carry for our children.”
The Worldwide Candle Lighting is open to all who wish to participate, whether by sponsoring or attending a service open to the public, joining in a small gathering, or lighting a candle in the quiet solitude of their homes or wherever they may be. Although the event is officially held at 7 p.m. for one hour, services are held throughout the day. In 2011, there were over 500 known services held in the United States including every state, as well as Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. The Compassionate Friends also received information on services held in 19 countries outside the United States. While hundreds of services were believed held outside the country, no exact count is possible.
For local services, visit The Compassionate Friends national website where hundreds of U.S. and worldwide services are in the process of being submitted and posted. TCF has been joined in the United States by chapters of many national organizations including MADD, MISS, Parents of Murdered Children, SIDS Network, Gilda’s Club, Boys and Girls Clubs, and Bereaved Parents of the USA. Publicity about the event has been widespread over the years, featured in Dear Abby, Annie’s Mailbox, Ann Landers column, Parade Magazine, Guideposts magazine and hundreds of newspapers, television stations, and websites.
As well as hundreds of U.S. services sponsored by TCF chapters, last year public services were held by local bereavement groups, churches, funeral homes, hospitals, hospices, children’s gardens, schools, cemeteries, and community centers.
During the day of the Worldwide Candle Lighting, a Remembrance Book will be open to the public on TCF’s national website to receive memorial messages of love which are posted from around the world. Last year, more than 5,000 were received, many in foreign languages. To view a list of known services open to the public and for more information about The Compassionate Friends and the event, visit www.compassionatefriends.org or call 877-969-0010. Also on Facebook. (A simpler, even more private alternative is to light a candle online.)