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Lost loved ones memorialized during candle-lighting ceremony

National Children’s Memorial Day was observed during a ceremony Sunday, Dec. 9, at the WestCoast Silverdale Hotel. Attendees were asked to write the name of a deceased loved one on an angel ornament, which was hung on a 10-foot-tall pine Christmas tree. - Sean Lamphere
National Children’s Memorial Day was observed during a ceremony Sunday, Dec. 9, at the WestCoast Silverdale Hotel. Attendees were asked to write the name of a deceased loved one on an angel ornament, which was hung on a 10-foot-tall pine Christmas tree.
— image credit: Sean Lamphere

Tears, hugs and a lot of comforting words were spread about when more than 100 people gathered to remember their deceased loved ones with a candle-lighting ceremony to recognize National Children’s Memorial Day.

The event, sponsored locally by the Kitsap County chapter of The Compassionate Friends, was at the WestCoast Silverdale Hotel Sunday, Dec. 9. It was one of six in Washington.

“We come together tonight for an evening of remembrance of those we have lost,” said organizer Del Arreola, who served as the evening’s master of ceremonies — a job which involved as much hugging as speaking.

The holiday season is a difficult time for parents to cope with their feelings of loss, according to organizer Linda Arreola, who lost her only son, Jason, in 1997.

After the presentation, audience members were asked to light candles in memory of their loved ones. One by one, they filed up to light a candle and say the person’s name, which proved impossible for some who were wrought with emotions.

The organizers said seeing that they weren’t alone in their grief, and that others were dealing with similar issues, made things easier for those grieving the loss of a child.

Besides lighting a candle, those in attendance were asked to write their loved ones’ names on angel-shaped ornaments and hang them on a 10-foot-tall pine tree in the room. The tree, adorned in simple white lights, was soon filled with a flock of shimmering angels.

The Compassionate Friends is an international support group for bereaved parents. The local chapter meets at 7 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month at Central Kitsap Presbyterian Church, 9300 Nels Nelson Road.

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