Worldwide Candle Lighting remembers children with hope

Jennifer and Hamp Howell’s daughter Danielle Koran and granddaughter Ella. Danielle died in 2013 and the Howells have organized the Candle Lighting as a way to remember her.

On the second Sunday in December, people around the globe gather to light candles to remember children that have died too soon. This mass candle lighting, now in its 18th year, begins in New Zealand and encircles the globe with light as it passes through each time zone to honor the memory of children. The event is sponsored by the Compassionate Friends whose mission is to support families after a child has died.

There will be a local Worldwide Candle Lighting site at Westlake United Methodist Church on Sunday, Dec. 14, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in which we will remember children, grandchildren and siblings with music, inspirational readings and messages of hope. At 7 p.m., all are invited to light candles to join the circle of light honoring those who were the light of so many lives.

Family and friends are invited to share in this time of healing and hope. Afterwards, share time together with refreshments, a memory board and (weather permitting) the release of candle lanterns so that the light of our children will always shine. You are invited to bring copies of photos, poems or other items for the memory board.

Last year, over 200 people attended the Worldwide Candle Lighting held at Westlake United Methodist church and found hope and a special sense of remembering with others who understood their loss. Westlake residents Jennifer and Hamp Howell organized the Westlake Candle Lighting site in memory of their daughter Danielle who died unexpectedly at age 33 leaving behind her 23-month-old daughter Ella. Jennifer took that special candle lighting night to heart and continues to look for signs of hope to share with others. 

The most vivid reminder of her daughter and the assurance of hope came to Jennifer this August when the Howells were on a family vacation in Arizona. They were traveling from the Grand Canyon to Sedona when they were misdirected onto a meandering fire road in the midst of a storm. The road was dirt, quickly turned to mud by the onslaught of fierce rain, and became impassable.

They were able to turn their car around but came close to sliding off the road into the canyon wilderness several times. They made it to a clearing where they were greeted by the sight of a double rainbow appearing to unite heaven and earth with beautiful colors set off against the dark stormy skies. The family had a deep, abiding sense of Danielle, looking over and guiding them back to safety. The rainbows stayed with them as they made their way back to the interstate.

The rainbow is a symbol of hope and promise in many cultures and religions. It reminds us of the rainbow of memories our children have given us.  "When our world changes and our futures are not as we dreamed of them, you are given signs to remember the joy and unique bond that you shared. Like a rainbow,” said Jennifer. "We went from living in their presence to learning how to love them in separation. I encourage anyone who has lost a child at any age or stage to come to acknowledge their grief and experience healing and hope as we light candles in memory of those special children with whom we shared our yesterdays."

The Westlake event is free and open to all. It will be held at Westlake United Methodist Church, 27650 Center Ridge Road in Westlake, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 14.

Ellie Peiffer

Small Group & Welcoming Ministries Associate at Westlake United Methodist Church

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Volume 6, Issue 24, Posted 9:43 AM, 11.25.2014