Donna Lunsford, founder of Parents in Mourning, along with Flagler Beach resident Carol Fisher, are organizing a candle lighting ceremony on Sunday (Dec. 11) at Veterans Park in Flagler Beach in memory of all children who have died too soon. The event is part of the Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting ceremonies, now believed to be the largest mass candle lighting around the globe.
“The event is in memory of all children who have died in our community and worldwide, so that their light continues to shine,” Lunsford said.
Lunsford launched Parents in Mourning after her son Jonathan and his cousin Eric were killed by a drunk driver 16 years ago. Parents in Mourning started as a support group for bereaved parents in the community. Lunsford is a certified grief counselor and psychiatric registered nurse and offers workshops from time to time. Two years ago Lunsford partnered with Craig Flagler Palms Funeral Home, Memorial Gardens and Crematory to install an Angel of Hope statue on the grounds of the cemetery, directly in front of the parking lot, so it’s visible to visitors as they pull in.
Fisher lost her daughter Julia to suicide on what will be almost four years to the day of the candle-lighting.
The 20th annual Worldwide Candle Lighting, a gift to the bereavement community from The Compassionate Friends, creates a virtual 24-hour wave of light as it moves from time zone to time zone. The event started in the United States in 1997 as a small internet observance, but has since swelled in numbers as word has spread throughout the world of remembrance. Hundreds of formal candle lighting events are held and thousands of informal candle lightings are conducted in homes as families gather in quiet remembrance of children who have died, but will never be forgotten.
Veteran’s Park is located at the corner of State Road 100 and State Road A1A. The event is scheduled on National Children’s Memorial Day. The memorial service will be held at 6 p.m., and the candle-lighting at 7 p.m. All are welcome to attend the event. Participants are asked to bring a candle.