Compassionate Friends hosting Worldwide Candle Lighting

MABOU: The Inverness County chapter of The Compassionate Friends (TCF) will join hundreds of other chapters around the world in creating a continuous circle of candlelight as an act of symbolic remembrance.

The 22nd annual Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting unites families and friends around the globe in lighting candles for one hour to honour the memories of the sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and grandchildren who lost their lives.

The local candle lighting will be part of a special service at the St. Joseph Renewal Centre in Mabou, and according to the organizers, as candles are lit at 7 p.m. local time, it will create a virtual 24-hour wave of light as it moves from time zone to time zone, uniting family and friends around the globe.

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“Compassionate Friends provides friendship, hope, understanding, support and for sure a listening ear, because all of the people have walked in those same shoes,” said Marion Graham, founder of the Inverness chapter. “The people there know your pain, they know your sorrow, they know your loss, they know what you’re going through.”

Along with another grieving couple, Graham established the local chapter of TCF in 2008 after losing her 21-year-old son Jeffery in 1994.

Annually, tens of thousands of families, united in loss, light candles for one hour during the Worldwide Candle Lighting, held the second Sunday in December. As candles burn down in one time zone, they are lighted in the next, creating a 24-hour wave of light as the observance continues around the world.

Since 1997, the Worldwide Candle Lighting has been TCF’s gift to the bereavement community during the holiday season. This time of year can be a very trying time for those who are grieving the death of a child, no matter their age and no matter how long it has been since they died.

“Sometimes you are the one that needs the healing, for us its 24-years and the hurt will always be there,” Graham said. “It’s a heartache that first of all is every parent’s nightmare, until you go through it yourself you don’t understand what other people are going through.”

Participants are asked to register by 6:45 p.m. and are invited to being a memento or photo of their loved one to display.

The evening will feature a welcome, the group will light one big candle for all the children who have been lost over the years, and then light individual candles. Betty Ann Cormier will serve as an inspirational speaker, and following her remarks, those attending will participate in conversation over tea.

“The first year we held it in 2008, oh my gosh it was beautiful. We went outside for the candlelighting and the snowflakes were flittering down with the steeple of the church in view,” Graham recalled. “Our biggest thing is you don’t have to grieve alone, it’s a lifetime of sorrow – just tell your story; talk about them; don’t let their voice disappear.”