As festive lights mark the coming of the holiday season, bereaved families around the world will be remembering children that they love and miss, this Worldwide Candle Lighting Day.
Taking place on the second Sunday of every December, Worldwide Candle Lighting Day is a time for bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings to pay tribute to a child, grandchild or sibling of any age and no matter how long ago they died.
Candle lighting events and remembrance services take place at 7pm local time on Worldwide Candle Lighting Day, in countries including the U.S., UK, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Netherlands, Mexico and Portugal, with people invited to join an event happening near them and bring along a photo of their loved one.
It’s a day too, for others to hold their own special candle-lighting with family and friends at home, their place of worship, or to take part in a virtual candle-lighting that will cross international time zones.
Behind the international day of remembrance is bereavement charity The Compassionate Friends, which provides telephone, online and peer-to-peer support to parents who are grieving a child, in many countries around the world. The charity is there for people, no matter how long ago their loss, or how old their child was, when they died.
Worldwide Candle Lighting events in some communities on December 9 this year will also include music, poetry, food and readings. Among those taking place around the world is The Noah Boser Children’s Memorial annual candle lighting in Olean, New York. Here, families will be able to add an ornament in memory of someone special, on a community Christmas tree in the local park.
In Australia, events include community suppers, with people asked to contribute food for a shared supper to follow candlelit services of remembrance.
In San Pedro Sula, Honduras, World Candle Lighting Day will round off with music, while in the UK, support charity Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) is uniting with The Compassionate Friends to bring people together in memory, at a church service being held in Watford.
Families are also invited to upload a photo of their loved one and a special message for them, in an online book of remembrance on the Compassionate Friends’ UK website.
Picture: Paolo Nicolello via Unsplash
With Christmas and Hanukkah approaching, this time of year can be especially hard for people who are mourning a family member, says Carolyn Brice, The Compassionate Friends’ chief executive in the UK.
“It can be quite painful, especially for those facing the first few years of loss,” she says.
“No matter where in the world you are, we encourage parents and families to light a candle to remember their children and grandchildren who have been taken from them too soon.”
If there is no organised event happening near where you live, it’s hoped you’ll still feel included in this international act of remembrance – whether you invite friends and family to light a candle over supper together, or join a virtual community who’ll be posting messages and photos online.
- Take part in Worldwide Candle Lighting Day by lighting a candle for someone you love at 7pm on December 9 and share it on social media, accompanied by the hashtag #WorldwideCandleLighting2018.