Our annual gathering event is canceled but the Candle Lighting goes on.

Our hope is that you will understand and our prayer is that you will never experience our situation. For the last four years, the Marriott Hotel has been very generous in sponsoring our event to honor our children that are no longer with us and we are very thankful to them for their support.

Unfortunately, we were just informed by the Marriott Hotel that they will not be able to sponsor our annual "Candle Lighting of The Compassionate Friends " this year on Dec. 10 and sadly we will have to cancel since we are a non-profit organization.

The Compassionate Friends has chapters around the world to help parents that have lost a child. Every year, Chapters gather on the second Sunday in December and light a candle for one hour at 7 p.m. to remember our children that have left us, no matter their age or cause. This brings a wave of light around the world for our children that are gone.

It is very difficult to lose a child and the holidays are especially hard for so many parents. Having a candle lighting each year at Christmas time (which seems to be the worst for grieving ) to remember our children and all our fond and precious memories with them helps.

It is so hard to comprehend the pain of losing a child for those that have not had to experience this tragedy. It is so comforting when a family member or friend mentions our child's name. Even though our child is no longer with us, he or she was here, making memories that still remain in our hearts.

Sometimes, no one wants to say their names, thinking it will make us feel sad. But in reality, it sometimes brings comfort to our soul that someone cares and remembers. Years ago, our dear friends lost their child; I had no idea the pain they felt because I had not experienced their loss.

Now I have and I truly get it; it is brutal. The only thing I can say is that I admire these parents and have learned from their strength all these years missing their daughter. Learn from me, embrace those who have lost a child. It is heartbreaking.

Please make an extra effort this holiday season and reach out to those families that are hurting and be there for them.

It brings so much comfort at a time of so much sadness.

On Sunday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m., light a candle in your home for one hour for your child or someone else's child to honor and remember them.

We have a wonderful group of parents who attend our meetings. They come for support and they receive it from parents who share their own journey. Our meetings are every third Thursday of the Month at Synergy (next to the Queen of the Valley Medical Center) from 7 to 9 p.m. Our meetings have been very successful in helping families on this unwanted journey.

Our next meeting will be on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018; you are welcome to join us.

Wishing you many wonderful memories with your families and finding peace in your hearts.

Judy Nunn

Chapter Leader