Remembering children who have died is especially hard for families during the holidays. The Compassionate Friends organization started an event fourteen years ago to help support families after a child dies. This event, the Worldwide Candle Lighting service is held to honor and remember children who have died at any age from any cause – “that their light always shine.” Candle lighting services are held formally at churches, children’s gardens, funeral homes, hospitals, anywhere people can gather. Informal services are held in the homes of grieving families. Families gather in remembrance, lighting candles at 7 p.m. local time, on the second Sunday in December. This Worldwide Candle Lighting event is believed to be the largest mass candle lighting in the world.
As families gather and candles are lit and move from one time zone to another it creates a 24 hour wave of light. The Worldwide Candle Lighting began in the United States fourteen years ago, in 1997, as a small Internet event. It has since grown to over 15 countries with chapters of MISS, MADD, SIDS Network, Parents of Murdered Children, Gilda’s Club, and BPUSA joining The Compassionate Friends in candle lighting services.
What is so beautiful about the Worldwide Candle Lighting is that bereaved families around the world can participate, whether formally or informally. It doesn’t matter if your ethnic or cultural believes, religious or political believes differ – this event unites us all, transcending earthly matters.
The online Compassionate Friends’ Remembrance Book is open during the 24-hour Worldwide Candle Lighting event. Messages to children who have died can be left by family members or friends. Thousands of messages from around the world have been left in their Remembrance Book.
If you’d like to plan and hold a Worldwide Candle Lighting service in your area The Compassionate Friends have information to help you. Their brochure, “Suggestions to Help Plan a Memorial Service in Conjunction with The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting” can be found on their website. This brochure explains how to plan everything from finding a location to dealing with media during the event. Your candle lighting service can be listed on The Compassionate Friends website. Last year, in 2009, the organization received information on almost 530 candle lighting services.
Peace can be found at a candle lighting service as you are united with others who have lost loved ones. I lost my father and grandmother in one year – a tough year. That December our local funeral home held a remembrance candle lighting service for bereaved families. God was surely with us as we prayed around a lighted pine tree with snow gently falling and our candles lit. We were each invited to hang an angel on the pine tree in honor of those who had died. As I stood there, I remembered and prayed for all of the people I have loved and lost to death. It was such a healing experience.
Find your peace by attending a Worldwide Candle Lighting service in your area. The listings can be foundhere. If there are no services near you, light a candle on the second Sunday of December at 7 p.m. local time and take a few quiet minutes to remember your beloved child…. “That their light always shine!”
The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting