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Thu, 12/08/2011

A candle for a child

A string of lights will shine around the world

On every second Sunday in December we commemorate World Day of Remembrance for Deceased Children also known as Worldwide Candle Lighting. This year it is December 11th which coincides with the Celebration Day of UNICEF, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, which was founded that day in 1946.

On Worldwide Candle Lighting Day relatives all over the world commemorate their deceased children, grandchildren and siblings.

The idea goes back to "Compassionate Friends", an initiative of bereaved parents and relatives which was founded in 1996 the U.S..

In German-speaking countries the first Memorial Day was celebrated in 1999 by Board members of the „Sternenkinder-Eltern im Netz“ and has become more popular each year.

The name of Worldwide Candle Lighting is based on the global ritual lighting of a candle for the deceased child at 7 p.m.. The candle is placed in a window visible from the outside. Due to the hourly shift in different time zones is appears that as if a light wave travels around the world within 24 hours . The thought behind this idea is “... That their light may always shine ...”

The candle lighting is accompanied with actions such as memorial services and readings. Such memorial services are offered at the chapel of Paul Gerhard Diakonie in Wittenberg on Sunday at 10.15 a.m. and in the hospital church in Prettin at 2 p.m..

"The day belongs to our dead children," says Conny Copitzky, who has lost her son Jörg 15 years ago and founded a support group for bereaved parents in Wittenberg soon after. "But I have two other children that require my full attention. However on World Day of Remembrance I'm taking time for my memories."

Shortly after her daughter's death seven years ago, Christa Ambolt attended Conny Copitzkys support group: "I was looking for support, but with my partner I could not talk." She knows that everyone needs to find her own way of mourning. But it is important to find the way back into life. "You have to get out, take part in life”, Copitzky says. “How to do that one can find out in a support group."

The custom to put a candle in the window during the weeks before Christmas is one way to cope with ones loss and it is particularly important for many who are affected. They agree that igniting a chain of lights around the whole world is a beautiful idea. "You are not alone. You remember your child and think of the others who have lost children and feel connected to them."

Two years ago, Christa Ambolt started playing guitar: “I wanted to learn it, because my daughter could play.” Now she plays two hours each day: "Music helps me. When I am in a bad mood it helps me to play to get better." As for Christa Ambolt for many it helps to be creative to cope with their grief. Who does not talk, becomes sick and develops hatreds, Conny Copitzky knows. The way out of grief is difficult, but eventually one can be happy again - without feeling guilty.