Families gather to remember children who've passed

Losing a child is difficult anytime of the year, but it's during the holiday's families need the most support.  That's why Compassionate Friends of Tyler is joining in the 2008 Worldwide Candle Lighting, a ceremony that remembers all children who've died.

One after the other, pictures of children who have passed were displayed for all to see Sunday. A quilt also containing pictures hung nearby, symbolizing a family formed through the Compassionate Friends of Tyler.

"This is not a family I would want anyone to be apart of, but once a child is gone this is a family that will support you and be there and understand more than anybody else ever could," said Carol Johnson.  Carol Johnson of Tyler lost her son Jarrett three years ago when he committed suicide.  One day, Johnson says she saw a sign for Compassionate Friends and decided to give them a call.

"It's the best thing I ever did because I didn't feel alone because it's hard to know if you're going crazy, or if what your feeling is normal at first," said Johnson.  Meeting the hundreds of others going through the same thing she is, Johnson says changed her life.  Sunday night, they remembered their children this Christmas, one of the most difficult times of the year.

"It's a worldwide event at the 7 o'clock time zones all around the world," said Compassionate Friends Steering Committee member Dr. Sam Smith.  "People will come to the front of the sanctuary and light a candle and say their kids names and that is going on for 24 hours around the world."  Johnson says just hearing her son's name means he has not been forgotten.

"It's Christmas and everybody is getting together and families are gathering and Jarrett's not here for that, that is my way to say you are still here," said Johnson.

Compassionate Friends is a national non-profit, self-help support organization for grieving families.  There is no religious affiliation, or membership fees.  For more information go to our homepage and click on Know More on 7.  There you will find "Compassionate Friends of Tyler."

Molly Reuter, Reporting. mreuter@kltv.com