A quick reminder to all those who have lost a child, or to those who want to support others in such a loss, this Sunday, December 10th, is the annual Worldwide Candle Lighting started by The Compassionate Friends.

At 7 p.m. local time, candles worldwide will be lit in memory of children who have died throughout the world.

“The Compassionate Friends is a national nonprofit, self-help support organization that offers friendship, understanding, and hope to bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings. There is no religious affiliation and there are no membership dues or fees.”

What began as a rememberance on a much smaller scale on the Internet in 1997 has become a worldwide movement and yearly tradition that gives families worldwide the opportunity to honor their loss, while also paying tribute to their children’s lives.

For one evening, the world grieves together. There is powerful healing in the reality that on this single evening millions of flames burn brightly across the globe. For one evening, our grief is universal and understood. We do not carry our loss alone. There is comfort and solace in such numbers.

My family has taken part in this ritual for three years. We find something comforting in this peaceful, quiet act that validates our loss and helps offset the emotional reactions that loom large during some family activities and seasonal events, actions that many who have lost a child may find surfacing during the holiday season. These are powerful, tough-to-explain emotions that the masses who have escaped such tragedy rarely understand.

But on this evening, however briefly, we are allowed to sit quietly, mesmerized by a candle flame and recall fond memories of our son’s life. We laugh loudly, or let healing tears fall silently. We are reminded of our son’s continuing presence in our lives and in our hearts.

It is a priceless holiday gift that we give ourselves yearly, a simple act that I highly recommend.

For more information on the Worldwide Candle Lighting and the important work of The Compassionate Friends, visit compassionatefriends.com.

May it grant you peace, if only for an evening.

Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs