The second sunday in December is an international day of remembrance for children who have died. All around the globe families, parents, siblings and friends light candles in memory of a child who has passed away. This year’s candle lighting came a week too early.
As I write this, tears stream down my face and my heart breaks for all of those families in Connecticut who lost their beloved children last friday. Those 12 beautiful girls and 8 little boys are God’s newest angels. There really are not words.
Nine years ago when we started the Spiritual Care Guild at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, the department head asked us if we could provide a candle lighting ceremony for the parents at CHLA. And so we did.
Hundreds of parents arrived with their deceased child’s picture in a frame or printed on their shirts, they enter an auditorium where other grieving parents share their story. Meanwhile the siblings, write love letters to their deceased brother or sister on cut out dragonflies. When the parents leave the auditorium they are given a candle that is lit and they walk outside under a beautiful tree filled with the dragon-fly love letters. The parents will not leave until their candle has gone out.
Some talk to other parents, some cry, some sit in silence but the power of unity and the comfort of the shared loss is palpable. It is here where the tiniest piece of healing begins. Nine years later we still provide this ceremony and many families come back year after year to remember their beloved child.
Every year I leave that ceremony with a renewed sense of purpose, gratitude for my own children and compassion for these families. So this holiday season, when you light a candle, think of these precious 20 children…. our unity and love will overcome.
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