For many people, the holiday season is one of remembrance of deceased loved ones. For some, it brings joy, but for others there is a renewed sense of loss. Easing that emotion is a primary goal of the Compassionate Friends' annual World Wide Candle Lighting, event to be held locally this year at the Abington Community Library Dec. 9.
According to local event organizer Deede Rothenberg, the program is open to anyone in the entire region who has lost anyone at any time and from any cause. It is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. with the lighting of candles outdoors. Those who wish to register the names of lost loved ones to be read during the program are asked to arrive at 6:30 p.m. Following the candle lighting, the remainder of the program will be held in the Ryan Room, where refreshments will be provided.
Whether it is a child, family member or friend, Rothenberg said, a loss of anyone is very difficult, particularly at the holidays and we hope that this program will make it a little easier for them.
Compassionate Friends, according to its website, compassionatefriends.org, was founded over 40 years ago when a chaplain at the Warwickshire Hospital in England brought together two sets of grieving parents and realized that the support they gave each other was better than anything he, as a chaplain, could ever say or provide.
According to the website, this year's event will be the 16th annual World Wide Candle Lighting, which is now believed to be the largest mass candle lighting on the globe…a gift to the bereavement community from The Compassionate Friends, [which] creates a virtual 24-hour wave of light as it moves from time zone to time zone.
Rothenberg said this will be the seventh year of the local event, but its first year at the library, as it was previously held at Marywood University.
Rothenberg said she first heard of Compassionate Friends and the candle lighting shortly after loosing her oldest child in 2004.
Our area had lost several young adults, she said, and I decided that it would be helpful for those of us in the community, both parents and friends of anyone who was no longer with us, to participate in [the event].
She said each of the previous programs had an attendance of approximately 30 people.
The reading of the list of names of those who have passed away is an important part of the program. Rothenberg said the list is continual, and names from each previous year are automatically added to the next year, even if no one re-registers them.
Remembering and honoring someone who is no longer with us is one of the few things we can still do for them, she said. This program is intended to both support those in attendance and to remember and honor those who are no longer with us.
We sometimes forget how important our community is to all of us, said Rothenberg. Our particular community is extraordinarily giving and I am so grateful that I live in such a unique place. I continue to organize this event as a way to give back to a community that has given me so much.