To the Editor:
About seven years ago, we lost our 23-year old son, Kevin, after a three-year battle with leukemia. With the help of (then) Kishwaukee Hospital’s Hospice Bereavement group, we began the long journey of grieving his loss.
We discovered that our loss intensified over the holidays, a pain we carried silently in our hearts. We found a way to both acknowledge the loss and remember our son through Compassionate Friends’ Worldwide Candle Lighting Ceremony, organized by what is now Northwestern Medicine Hospice.
At 6:15 p.m. Sunday, bereaved parents and their families worldwide can find comfort and support through the Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting ceremony. Locally, the ceremony will take place in the Hopkins Park Terrace Room, 1403 Sycamore Road in DeKalb, and is sponsored by Northwestern Medicine Hospice in DeKalb and organized by local bereaved parents.
During the ceremony, our beloved children are remembered and honored. Their loss at any age – through suicide, miscarriage, homicide, illness, accident, premature birth or nonviable pregnancy – is recognized through readings, songs and personal stories.
At 7 p.m., after the main program, there will be a time of reflection and remembrance as each bereaved parent/family, who feel comfortable, is invited to light a candle for their child. This time of candle-lighting is meant to coincide with candle-lighting ceremonies by Compassionate Friends groups all over the world, which will also light candles at 7 p.m. in their respective time zones.
Jen Conley, Northwestern Medicine Hospice music therapist and harpist, will provide music during the ceremony.
Refreshments and a time to connect with other bereaved parents will follow the ceremony. And each family will be given a special Christmas ornament, handmade by the parents organizing the ceremony, to take home to remember their child.
Families are invited to bring a photo of their child to display on a remembrance table during the evening.
Please call Erin Mitchell, Hospice Bereavement Support Coordinator, at 815-756-3000, for information.
There is an Eskimo proverb that says, “Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven, where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.”
Diane DeMers and Dave Ballantine