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by Abigail Van Buren

Candle Lighting Shows Support for Those Grieving Lost Child

DEAR ABBY: Every year across the United States and around the world, families must deal with the holiday season after the unthinkable has happened -- the death of a precious child.

In response to the need for grieving families to have one special day during the difficult holidays to remember, honor and reflect on the lives of these children who have died -- at any age and from any cause -- The Compassionate Friends, a national self-help support organization for families grieving the death of a child, created the Worldwide Candle Lighting. It is held the second Sunday of each December and is now in its 15th year. The event officially takes place at 7 p.m. local time for one hour and continues to grow larger every year.

The Compassionate Friends invites your readers to attend a service Dec. 11, to honor the lives of these children, or to light a remembrance candle at 7 p.m., wherever they may be, whether alone or with friends and family. They are also invited to visit The Compassionate Friends national website on the day of the Worldwide Candle Lighting and post a remembrance message in our online memory book. We do this so that their light may always shine, Abby. Thank you for spreading the message. -- PATRICIA LODER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE COMPASSIONATE FRIENDS/USA

DEAR PATRICIA: You're welcome. The holidays are an emotionally loaded time of year for many people. For families suffering from the loss of a child, it can be even more so. Thank you for the support you offer them.

Readers, on Dec. 11, services open to the public will be held throughout the day in hundreds of locations across the U.S., as well as in about two dozen countries around the world.

Services will be held by many of the Compassionate Friends' 630 U.S. chapters, as well as allied organizations, community groups, churches and houses of worship, funeral homes, children's memorial gardens, hospices, schools, cemeteries -- even community centers. To locate the nearest service and find out more information, you should visit www.compassionatefriends.org or call 877-969-0010.