TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Sunday night, East Texans joined people around the world to remember and honor children who have died. The Compassionate Friends of Tyler held a candle light service for National Children's Memorial Day. Families who have lost children say the holidays make their absence even more glaring.
"Holidays are times for families to be together, and you think back each year over your family traditions, the Christmas dinners you've had, and he's been there. The Christmas tree and opening the presents and somebody's not there this year," Leslie Dixon said.
Leslie and Don Dixon's son, Austin, died unexpectedly when he was a senior in high school.
"We found him when we got home. He was gone and had been gone for a number of hours," Leslie said.
"He was a star athlete, an honor student, full of life and fun," Don said.
Sunday night, the Dixons joined East Texans and people across the globe lighting candles in memory of children who have died.
"For our family, it is our Christmas," Leslie said.
"All of us on this journey of grief feel alone at some point or another," Lisa Schoonover said.
The Compassionate Friends is a worldwide organization with a chapter here in Tyler. Schoonover said this group has helped her cope with the loss of her son, Jake.
"That provides support, hope and healing to parents that have lost a child of any age," Schoonover said.
The candles were lit one by one. Each one shining brightly for a child that will never be forgotten.
The Compassionate Friends of Tyler meets once a month and welcomes families who have lost a child of any age.