The 15th annual Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting will be held December 11 at United Hospital Center in Clarksburg, north of Charleston. The ceremony unites friends and families around the globe in lighting candles for an hour to honor and remember children who have died at any age from any cause.
As candles are lit at 7 p.m. local time, creating a virtual wave of light, hundreds of thousands of persons commemorate and honor the memory of children in a way that transcends all ethnic, cultural, religious and political boundaries.
Believed to be the largest mass candle lighting on the globe, the Worldwide Candle Lighting, a gift to the bereavement community from The Compassionate Friends, creates a virtual 24-hour wave of light as it moves from time zone to time zone.
Hundreds of formal candle lighting events are held and thousands of informal candle lightings are conducted in homes as families gather in quiet remembrance of children who have died, but will never be forgotten. The ceremony began in the United States in 1997 as a small Internet observance, but has since swelled in numbers as word of the remembrance has spread throughout the world.
Said group founder Simon Stephens:
“The Compassionate Friends is about transforming the pain of grief into the elixir of hope. It takes people out of the isolation society imposes on the bereaved and lets them express their grief naturally. With the shedding of tears, healing comes. And the newly bereaved get to see people who have survived and are learning to live and love again.”
The ceremony will be held for UCH’s bereavement support group, Embracing Invisible Wings, a first of its kind in its area and something that can help families during their time of grief. Kristina Shaver, who gave birth to a stillborn baby 11 years ago, shared her story Embracing’s opening service in June of this year.
“You kind of have to find your own way to grieve about it. But, all of the grieving is normal. Sometimes it can be excessive but it can be a long time for you to actually heal from this,” she said.
Lee Ann Romeo is a Childbirth Educator at UHC and hopes the support group can reach out to as many families as possible.
“It’s something people feel uncomfortable talking about. It’s also a need for people who’ve gone through the same experience to share with each other so that they can resource with each other on what to expect and the process of grief,” she said.
Embracing Invisible Wings support group will light candles in hospital classrooms one and two. Seating will be limited; please call Lee Ann Romeo at 681-342-4346 for reservations.