Westlake church hosts 18th annual Worldwide Candle Lighting even - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Westlake church hosts 18th annual Worldwide Candle Lighting event

Many lit candles in remembrance. (Source: WOIO) Many lit candles in remembrance. (Source: WOIO)
Outside, candle lanterns were released into the air. (Source: WOIO) Outside, candle lanterns were released into the air. (Source: WOIO)
WESTLAKE, OH (WOIO) - On Sunday, the Westlake United Methodist Church was one of several organizations to participate in an 18th annual Worldwide Candle Lighting event. 

This year's event began in New Zealand and then moved on to the next time zone an hour away. It continued until it circled the entire globe 24 hours later, providing global therapy for countless people in pain. 

The local event is sponsored by The Compassionate Friends, whose mission is to support families after a child has died.

Believed to be the largest mass candle lighting, the Worldwide Candle Lighting has become an event in which hundreds of services are held in memory of children throughout the day around the world. Loved ones and community members gather to remember children, grandchildren and siblings with a night of music, inspirational readings and messages of hope. 

Organizers say the lighting of candles produced a circle of light that passed through each time zone encircling the globe to honor the memory of children who were the light of so many lives. Later attendees could leave a message on a memory wall and release candle lanterns. 

Jennifer Howell lost her daughter last spring.

"It is incredibly deep pain that never ever goes away. Life changes," said  Howell.

Retired psychologist Dr. Tony Dibiasio says the loss of a child for a parent is unnatural and extraordinarily painful.

"It is just out of the natural order of things. It throws the family in such despair," said Dibiasio.

People who came to the event were able to get unique comfort that only those with similar loss and pain can provide.

"They can look at the person sitting next to them, the person sitting in front of them, and find strength in their presence," said Dibiasio.

Last year, more than 200 people attended the Worldwide Candle Lighting held at Westlake United Methodist Church.

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