Continuing a Message of Hope ~ East of the River Chapter is featured in ReminderNews with ONE MISTAKE

Al Hemingway, staff writer for the ReminderNews is no stranger to grief and loss.  A Vietnam Vet,  he has known the loss of  friends, who may not have been brothers by birth, but became so by choice and circumstance.  Al attended The Compassionate Friends East of the River October 6, 2010 Event featuring Alan Pedersen of the Angels Across The USA Tour and wrote an article for the Reminder News.

Group Delivers Message of Hope – REMINDER NEWS

The article can be found in the 11/18/2010 East Hartford Edition and highlights how the East of the River Chapter came to be, in honor of RobynApril Rivard-Darby Maguire, who was killed in a tragic accident in her own Vernon front yard December 4, 2008 and is the daughter of leaders Jim Darby and Bettie-Jeanne Rivard-Darby .

“It is a good article” says Bettie-Jeanne.  “His quotes of Alan speak to every bereaved parent’s heart.  Al captured the essence of the night, and I think, was touched to be able to light a candle alongside of us for those he has lost.”

Among the quotes that Alan Pedersen shared between his songs of the evening was the very poignant, “When you are a bereaved parent, you don’t wake up one morning and get ‘unbereaved’.  We have to go on, but we don’t have to forget.  We scratch and claw our way through our loss each day. Our ties still remain.  Our relationships did not die that day; they still live on.”

Chapter Co-Leader Jim Darby was also very pleased with the article and hope that it will help those in need  become aware that the newly formed Compassionate Friends chapter exists.  “I do have one BIG CORRECTION to the article tough,”  he adds.  “An error quoting Bettie gives some incorrect information.  It should have read that although bereaved parents make up the highest concentration of most The Compassionate Friends meeting groups, we very much welcome bereaved siblings and grandparents.  We are a peer-to-peer support group for anyone whose has lost a child, grandchild or sibling of any age, from pre-birth to full maturity, from any cause.  There are other grief support groups dedicated to the loss of a parent or grandparent.  We are the parents who have experienced the death of our children.” 

Worldwide Candlelighting ~Remembering Our Children, Grandchildren and Siblings Gone Before Us

The Compassionate Friends East of the River Chapter Candle Lighting will be held during our regular monthly meeting ~ December 16, 2010

Find a Worldwide Candle Lighting Service in Your Area

TCF 2010 Worldwide Candle Lighting Press Release (Oct. 6, 2010):

Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting During Holiday Season Remembers All Children Who Have Died

Excitement has been building as the fourteenth Worldwide Candle Lighting December 12, 2010 approaches. The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting unites family and friends around the globe in lighting candles for one hour to honor and remember children who have died at any age from any cause. As candles are lit at 7 p.m. local time, creating a virtual wave of light, hundreds of thousands of persons commemorate and honor the memory of children in a way that transcends all ethnic, cultural, religious, and political boundaries.

Now believed to be the largest mass candle lighting on the globe, the Worldwide Candle Lighting, a gift to the bereavement community from The Compassionate Friends, creates a virtual 24-hour wave of light as it moves from time zone to time zone. Hundreds of formal candle lighting events are held and thousands of informal candle lightings are conducted in homes as families gather in quiet remembrance of children who have died, but will never be forgotten.

The Worldwide Candle Lighting started in the United States in 1997 as a small Internet observance but has since swelled in numbers as word has spread throughout the world of the remembrance.

In 2009, information was submitted to TCF’s national website on services in 15 countries outside the United States. In total, we received nearly 530 services. TCF has been joined in recent years by chapters of several organizations including MISS, MADD, Parents of Murdered Children, SIDS Network, Gilda’s Club, and BPUSA and services were held in all 50 states plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. There is no way to know how many hundreds of additional services were held in the U.S. and around the world without the information being to us.

The Compassionate Friends and allied organizations were joined in 2009 by local bereavement groups, churches, funeral homes, hospitals, hospices, children’s gardens, schools, cemeteries, and community centers. Services have ranged in size from just a few people to nearly a thousand.

You are also invited to post a message in the Remembrance Book which will be available during the event at TCF’s national website. Last year in that short one day span, thousands of messages were received and posted from every U.S. state and Washington D.C., every territory, as well as dozens of other countries, some in foreign languages. The Remembrance Book will remain accessible to read until the 2011 Worldwide Candle Lighting.

Here in the United States, publicity about the event is widespread, being featured over the years in Dear Abby, Annie’s Mailbox, Ann Landers column, Parade Magazine, Guideposts magazine, and literally hundreds of U.S. newspapers, dozens of television stations, and numerous websites and hundreds of personal blogs. Information on the Worldwide Candle Lighting and planned memorial candle lighting services (of which we are advised) is posted on TCF’s national website every year as the event nears.

If no Worldwide Candle Lighting service was held near you in 2009, please feel free to plan one open to the public this year. You are welcome to use TCF’s “Suggestions to Help Plan a Memorial Service in Conjunction with The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting©” to help in planning the service. All allied bereavement organizations, churches, funeral homes, hospices and formal and informal bereavement groups are invited to join in the remembrance. The Worldwide Candle Lighting gives bereaved families everywhere the opportunity to remember their child . . . that their light may always shine!

A Candlelighting Made Most Special~ Thank You Alan Pedersen

On October 6, 2010 bereaved dad, singer ~ song writer, grief spokesperson Alan Pedersen came to Connecticut,with the mission of ANGELS ACROSS THE USA and touched our hearts with his words.  Alan shared his own journey after the loss of his daughter, Ashley, while validating the pain, heartache and longing for hope that parents, siblings and grandparents experience after the death of their loved one.

“I can’t tell you how much Alan meant to us,” one bereaved dad from the Farmington located Central Connecticut Compassionate Friends Chapter said.  “I don’t really know what I was expecting, but being with him that night, listening to him, crying and laughing alongside of him, has meant more to my wife and I than I can tell you.  Thank you so much for having him [in Connecticut] and inviting us to be part of that evening.”

Another parent shared, “Something changed for me being there that night listening to Alan.  He lets us know right from the beginning that its OK to cry and even OK to laugh, but that we’ll never forget.  Like that song he sang, we won’t get over but we may move through.”

At the very beginning of the event Alan shared how one “civilian” approached him after the first year anniversary of Ashley’s death, wanting to know how long he was going to grieve.  Alan’s response resonated with every person in the audience…”As long as she is dead.”

The evening of song and personal stories ended with a candle lighting ceremony in which all were invited to speak their deceased loved one’s name as their candle was lit, and share a few words about them.  Plenty of tears were shed, as well as smiles over bittersweet memories as a sea of candles provided a glow of HOPE.

Alan ended the evening by singing TONIGHT I HOLD THIS CANDLE, an anthem for thousands of candle lighting ceremonies worldwide.  Alan shared, “God wrote this song.   I consider myself fortunate that he trusted me to hold the pen.”  And though the candles were finally extinguished as family members gathered in the back of the auditorium for connecting, conversation and refreshments, the light of the memories of who they represented will always burn brightly in the hearts of their families.♥