Worldwide Candle Lighting Day is celebrated the second Sunday of every December. Although the day is recognized during the most festive of holiday seasons, Worldwide Candle Lighting Day has nothing to do with traditional religious and cultural Christmas celebrations. Worldwide Candle Lighting Day is a virtual 24-hour global candle lighting ceremony symbolizing compassionate support for each other by families grieving the loss of a child. Believed to be the world’s largest candle lighting ceremony, the day unites those who remember the children who have passed on.
HISTORY OF WORLDWIDE CANDLE LIGHTING DAY When a child departs this life early, the grief can be overwhelming on a level unequaled by any other human tragedy.
There is no magic formula to mend the broken heart, fill the void, and process the devastating sadness in the wake of a child’s death. Regardless of the child’s age and whether the death was sudden or expected, the journey through grief that parents, grandparents, and siblings must endure when a child’s life is taken away is a difficult road to travel. Those who embark on this journey often feel alone and isolated.
In May of 1968 the Reverend Simon Stephens, a chaplain at the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital in England, recognized a unique opportunity to bring two sets of grieving parents together whose sons each lay dying in the same hospital. Reverend Stephens hoped that the parents, Joe and Iris Lawley, whose son Kenneth was killed in a traffic accident, and Bill and Joan Henderson, whose son Billy died from cancer, might find solace and comfort by sharing their stories and grieving for and with each other.
The comfort and support that the Lawleys and Hendersons experienced by sharing the common grief of losing a son was a healing balm they wanted to share with other parents mourning the loss of a child. Reverend Stephens facilitated their meeting with other bereaved parents whom he had consoled at the hospital, and in January 1969, The Compassionate Friends organization was formed.
In 1997 The Compassionate Friends of the United States began Worldwide Candle Lighting Day as an annual gift of compassionate support to unite the families of the sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, and grandchildren who departed this earth too soon. The first ceremony was a small internet event that has since grown to include thousands of formal and informal gatherings all around the world.
Today, hundreds of Worldwide Candle Lighting Day gatherings are supported by local churches, funeral homes, hospitals, hospices, schools, cemeteries, memorial gardens, and community centers. In 2019 The Compassionate Friends added a virtual Worldwide Candle Lighting Memorial Wall where family members could share a memorial message in honor and memory of their child, grandchild, or sibling.
For Cameron David Allen (16 April, 1995 - 14 September, 2008)