A total of 63 candles were lit in remembrance of 63 siblings and children honored on Dec. 8 during a Candle Lighting Remembrance Program at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center.
Everyone seemed to tear up during the event, which also involved the reading of the individual names of the people being honored, reading of messages, and the showing of a video prepared by Dr. Nelson Krum.
Jill Derickson, one of the organizers of the event, said the Candle Lighting Remembrance Program was held in conjunction with The Compassionate Friends’ 17th Annual Worldwide Candle Lighting Service, which was also held on Dec. 8 in countries around the world.
She said her group is in the process of creating a CNMI chapter of The Compassionate Friends on the islands.
“Many people in our group worked very hard to make this a success. I was thrilled with the outcome. We honored 63 people by reading their names and lighting an individual candle. The readings and video were meaningful and, I suspect, touched everyone who was there. I provided about 20 boxes of Kleenex,” she said in an email to Saipan Tribune.
Derickson said she herself is still coping with the death of a sibling. “My sister, Debra, was murdered in 1979. It was a sudden, shocking, tragic loss to me, my family, and everyone who knew and loved her. Amazingly, here I am, still surviving, 34 years later.”
She said organizations like The Compassionate Friends help people like her deal with the loss of a loved one.
“When a child dies, a child of any age, the whole world seems to crash down. Emptiness may grip you that nothing seems to fill. As shock fades away, you may feel a helplessness and depression that will leave you unable to function. The world had changed—and so have you, and it will never be the same again.”
No parent or grandparent is ever prepared for their child or grandchild to die before them, she said. “Parental grief is intense, long-lasting, and complex. Bereaved parents may experience guilt, for having outlived their child. The community may discount grief when an adult child dies from a cause that makes others feel uncomfortable, or judgmental.”
That’s why forming a group like The Compassionate Friends in the local community is essential, Derickson said. “Although each bereaved person travels a unique path through their own grief, in our experience, the death of a child, sibling, or grandchild causes a pain that is often best understood by others who have also experienced such a loss.”
Started in 1997, the Worldwide Candle Lighting Service is believed to be the largest mass candle lighting event in the globe. It is held at the same time in each time zone around the world.
Aside from the CNMI, which unofficially held the event, the Worldwide Candle Lighting Service was also observed in New Zealand, Guam, Australia, the Philippines, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium, England, South Africa, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, North and South America, and Hawaii.
The Compassionate Friends is a national mutual assistance, self-help organization that offers friendship, understanding and support to family members who have experienced the death of a son, daughter, brother, sister, grandchild or friend, and helps others better assist grieving families.
The local group’s monthly meetings are held on the first Thursday of the month, at 6:30pm in the NMPASI conference room. For more information, call Derickson at 287-5337 or email her at email@example.com.