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Candlelight service allows parents to remember their deceased children

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By Jenny Hartley

Although many people associate the holiday season with happiness, for others it is a time of sadness as families mourn the loss of a child.

On Sunday, local families may participate in a worldwide candle lighting to remember children who have died. U.S. Congress has designated the day as a national memorial day to remember these children. The observance started small on the Internet about 10 years ago, but has grown into a worldwide event.

The Compassionate Friends, a support group for families who have lost children, began the tradition of having candles lit at 7 p.m. local time in each time zone around the world.

As the candles burn down in one time zone, they are lit in the next zone, creating a 24-hour wave of light as the observance continues around the world.

The Charlotte Chapter of the Compassionate Friends will observe the candle lighting starting at 6:45 p.m. Sunday at St. Matthew Catholic Church, 8015 Ballantyne Commons Parkway, Charlotte.

The chapter includes members from South Carolina counties in the region.

Indian Land resident Sarah McPeek will observe the candle lighting on Sunday at 7 p.m. at the grave site of her son, Rich McPeek, at Higher Ground Church cemetery on Possum Hollow Road. Rich McPeek died in February 2006 from complications of diabetes. Friends and family are invited.

For details about the Charlotte service, call (704) 728-7940. To learn more about the Compassionate Friends, go to www.compassionatefriends.org.

Contact Jenny Hartley

at 283-1151 or

jhartley@thelancasternews.com