HAZLETON — Families gathered in Luzerne County Sunday for National Children’s Memorial Day, a day that gives families a chance to pay tribute to their children who have died.
One by one, candles were lit at the Faith United Church of Christ in Hazleton.
Each year, families come out to honor National Children’s Memorial Day. Organizers said the candlelight vigil has become an international movement.
“It starts in New Zealand at 7 p.m. and it continues throughout the world, every time zone at 7 p.m. Candles will be lit in remembrance of someone who’s passed on,” explained Gene Babula of Hazleton.
The annual event is held by the Luzerne County chapter of the National Bereaved Parents organization.
It is free and open to the public.
Families attend a service where all the names of the children who have passed away are read aloud. It’s then followed with the ringing of a bell.
Families say the gathering helps them deal with the grief, even if just for a little while.
“I think it helps families to remember their loved ones that passed away. I think it’s a great way to cope during the holidays,” said Christa Benyo of Millersville.
The organization meets at the church every first Monday of the month, to get together and support one another.
They say families feel some comfort knowing they are not alone in their sorrow.
“I give permission to people to grieve the way they need to and not because they have to get over it, because quite frankly, they’re not going to get over it. You don’t ever get over the death of your child,” said Rev. Dr. Jane Hess.