Candle Lights Around the World
December 9th 2011 · 0 Comments
BY MARK ZIOBRO
Since October 2010, parents, grandparents, and siblings who have suffered the loss of a child, grandchild, brother, or sister in the Mohawk Valley have been able to find hope.
At least that’s the message Dave Roberts and other members of the The Compassionate Friends of the Mohawk Valley are trying to spread.
The group, chartered on June 28, 2010, holds regular meetings on the second Tuesday of every month at the Stittville United Methodist Church, 9066 Main St., Stittville, NY with the sole purpose of offering support to those who have lost a sibling or a child. And so far, the Chapter has come as a tremendous support for those going through this painful loss.
And now, more than a year after their first meeting, The Compassionate Friends of the Mohawk Valley is pleased to announce that they will be partaking in their second “Worldwide Candle Lighting,” sponsored by The Compassionate Friends, this Sunday, December 11th, at the Stittville United Methodist Church. Registration is from 6-6:45 pm, and the Candle Lighting is from 7-8. There is no charge to register.
Dave Roberts, Chapter Leader, is pleased for the Mohawk Valley Chapter’s inclusion in this international event. “[Compassionate Friends] have 630 chapters serving all 50 states plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. Around the world, over 30 countries have a Compassionate Friends presence. We will be one of many chapters lighting candles for our children. After us, the next time zone lights theirs, etc. It’s one continuous global light for basically an entire 24-hour period,” Roberts said.
As a parent who has experienced the death of a child, Roberts stated that the universal Candle Lighting event comes at a time that can often be particularly trying for parents or siblings trying to cope with such loss: the holidays.
“The intensity of grief is greater during the holidays,” he said. “We hope to give people a safe environment to share their pain with others who are walking the same road and a safe place to honor their children.”
And while the Candle Lighting will serve as a way to bring these families together, the organization is hoping that the event will serve as a catalyst for grieving parents, grandparents, and children to find an outlet for their grief.
“After the ceremony, we will have a sharing session for those who want to hang back, talk, or decompress. We want to get the message out there that this is just one of the events we have in addition to our monthly chapter meetings,” Roberts said.
In addition to monthly chapter support meetings, The Compassionate Friends of the Mohawk Valley also offers services to help families with grief: Phone and e-mail support for those who cannot attend meetings, and a “Lending Library”–a library of grief-related books and literature that members may browse and check out between meetings. The group also has a Facebook page, which offers membership by request. It is listed under The Compassionate Friends of the Mohawk Valley.
To Roberts, and The Compassionate Friends, membership in the group is simple: “Once you attend one meeting, you’re a member for life,” he said.
As the Candle Lighting approaches this Sunday, leading into the holiday weeks that lay ahead for those suffering the loss of a child, grandchild, or sibling, Roberts had practical advice to make the upcoming month easier for families.
“Be gentle with yourself,” he said. “If there are traditions you can’t do, it’s okay to do things differently. The holidays carry so many memories of our children. The journey of a bereaved parent, grandparent, and sibling is lifelong after the death of their child, brother or sister, or grandchild.
“As time goes on, we learn to manage the pain of our grief during the holidays and throughout the years, while learning to find meaning, and joy amidst the sadness resulting from their physical absence.
“Practices such as hanging a Christmas stocking for a deceased child, or making a donation in their honor can help families to find joy and meaning within loss.”
Roberts also added one of his favorite quotes that had an impact both in his personal life and for parents, grandparents, and siblings new to grief: “Forgetting isn’t a requirement of anybody’s grief journey, but remembering and staying connected is.”
For those interested in attending the Candle Lighting ceremony, or in learning more about The Compassionate Friends of the Mohawk Valley, please contact the chapter by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 315.736.8684.
By Mark Ziobro