Compassionate Friends Remember Together

Tonight was the 14th annual world wide candle lighting by The Compassionate Friends – an organization for those who have lost children, grandchildren, and siblings. In communities across the globe, in each time zone at 7:00 p.m. on the second Sunday night in December, the world’s grieving parents gather to remember and honor their children.

To tell you the truth, I wish that there were no need for such an organization. I would rather that no parent ever have to hear the words that their child has died. But ever since the first couple came upon the lifeless body of their son Abel, death and sorrow have been a part of the human experience. Since this is our reality, I can’t thank God enough for The Compassionate Friends. The local group embraced us in the early months of our loss. They have truly been our friends. French and Marilyn Smith took us by the hand and opened the door into this society of broken hearts that are in all stages of healing.

At tonight’s gathering there were poems and remembrances. Matt Brock and Morgan Buxton blessed our hearts with beautiful music that glorified God. Parents, grandparents, and siblings stood in line to light candles and to say the name of their loved one for all to hear. It sounds simple, but it is quite a healing moment to be in a room with that much pain and loss, and to recognize your place there. To know that everyone in that room has suffered along with you reminds you of the last sentence of our credo: we need not walk alone.

There were many tears tonight … at least there were many falling across my face … as I listened to the voices of the pained. Some sounded resigned, some whispered, some loud, and some couldn’t bring themselves to say anything. The service is not particularly religious, on purpose. It does take place in a church, and we heard some beautiful hymns. But each is left to face loss with their own faith or no faith. One doesn’t have to be a Christian to be a part of the Compassionate Friends. Of course most of us would contend that without God’s help, we would never be able to make it. I know that’s true for us.

Lighting a candle doesn’t solve anything. Gathering and reflecting on life and death doesn’t change anything. The only thing any of us want for Christmas is to see our loved ones walk through the door. We’re never going to ‘get over’ this grief. None of us is going to ‘move on’. There’s no way we want to quit hurting because that can only mean we will have forgotten – and we can’t forget. As Zig Ziglar says, ‘Grief is the price we pay for loving so deeply.’ ¬†While we can’t overcome this loss, we can heal. We can hurt less intensely. We can look beyond our hurt to others and offer them our love and support.

The message I’ve heard at The Compassionate Friends from the first meeting is, “it gets better“.

It does.

Thanks for reading,

John