The Santa Clarita Valley chapter of The Compassionate Friends participated in a worldwide candlelight remembrance for those grieving over the loss of family and friends.
The candle lighting was organized by chapter leaders Diane Briones and Alice Renolds, who have previously lost children. Additionally, Jeff Moog volunteered and created the slideshow, Linda Stout arranged the music, and The New Life Assembly of God provided the venue and equipment to produce the event.
The event was attended by more than 60 people, who came together to honor the memory of their loved ones by lighting a candle, reflecting and sharing poems dedicated to those they lost.
“The ceremony commemorate siblings and grandchildren of all ages who have died from any cause, and transcends all ethnic, cultural, religious and political boundaries,” Briones said. “The holiday season is one of the most difficult times of the year for bereaved families and the worldwide candle lighting is one way in which we show we are all united with bereaved families everywhere.”
Pictures of loved ones who passed away were displayed on boards during the Compassionate Friends of Santa Clarita Valley’s 20th Annual Candle Lighting Remembrance Program at the New Life Assembly of God in Santa Clarita, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021. Chris Torres/The Signal
A member of The Compassionate Friends, Steve Berry, read the creed to attendees and said, “We need compassionate friends who reach out to each other with love and understanding.”
Additionally, Berry said children have died in all age groups from many different causes, and the love for their children unites the grieving family members together.
The candle lighting featured a slideshow of the loved ones who have passed with accompanying music. Some of the songs played were “In the Arms of an Angel” by Sarah McLachlan, “To Where You Are” by Josh Groban and “Light a Candle” by Paul Alexander.
Briones and Renolds read the purpose of every candle lit, and as the attendees held their illuminated candles, they said the names of those loved ones who have passed.
“This candle is the light of hope, Renolds said. “It reminds us of the love and memories of you that are forever.”
The local chapter was founded 24 years ago when Briones lost her 20-year-old daughter in a crash, Renolds would join two years later, and the candle lighting ceremony began 21 years ago.
“This is our 20th year of doing our candle lighting. Because of COVID-19, we didn’t do it last year,” Renolds said.
Hundreds of people often attend the lighting in the past, but COVID-19 has affected the number of people attending, according to Renolds.
For Renolds and Briones, the candle lighting is a way for the bereaved to honor their children, share their love and start the holiday positively.
Santa Clarita’s chapter is part of the virtual lighting worldwide, with families lighting candles at 7 p.m. in their time zones on the second Sunday in December.
Gary Johnson, right, and his wife Sandy, middle, and daughter Tracy watch the screen displaying the pictures of loved ones who died at the Compassionate Friends of Santa Clarita Valley’s 20th Annual Candle Lighting Remembrance Program at the New Life Assembly of God in Santa Clarita, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021. Chris Torres/The Signal
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