The Compassionate Friends met for an annual candlelighting to remember their children who have died.
After a day of rain Sunday, Dec. 9, the evening brought tears.
Compassionate Friends, a bereavement group, hosted a candlelighting at the George Wickline Senior Center in Flagler Beach to remember and honor their children who have died.
About 15 people gathered under the pavilion for the annual event, which was held to mark the worldwide candlelighting moment at 7 p.m.
“We are a small group, but we are really a part of something really big,” said Palm Coast resident Mae Malmquist.
The intimate event evoked emotions from the locals who stepped up to the microphone one after the other to share memories of the children gone too soon.
Jenna Webster lost two sons — one when he was age 22 and one at age 52.
Carol and Bob Evans’ daughter died from a traffic crash nearly two years ago. She spent 73 days in the ICU.
A woman named Shirley had to plan two funerals at once when her son and her sister both died in September 2016.
John Brady, of Compassionate Friends, mourned the death of his daughter Katie, a mother of four children.
“The most difficult day of my life was the day my wife said to me, ‘Katie’s dying,’” Brady said. “We can’t explain why our child was taken from us. ... We have an opportunity to share our pain, to share our loss, to share our grief and to have joy — joy that we can be together. We can’t be together with our children, but we can be together with ourselves.”
Brady fondly remembered his daughter’s dramatic tendencies and little quirks.
“I’m sure she’ll be standing there with a cold Yuengling for me,” he said about reuniting one day.
Captain Nick, a local musician, broke the silence of the cool dark night, with the only light being the soft glow of the candles.
The Compassionate Friends group meets at 5:30 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of every month (upcoming is Wednesday, Dec. 26), at VITAS Healthcare, 4 Old Kings Road, Suite B. Call John Brady at 610-428-3139. Visit https://www.compassionatefriends.org.
Rev. Carmen Royster-Caldwell, a chaplain at VITAS Healthcare, shared some guidance to help people grieve, especially during the holidays:
- You have the right to experience your own grief.
- Don’t let others tell you what you should be feeling.
- Talk about your grief as much and as often as you want to.
- Fill the multitude of your emotions.
- Embrace your spirituality, whatever that may be.
- The key to moving forward is to forgive.
- Treasure your memories and celebrate them.