I recently attended a candlelight vigil at my local Angel of Hope memorial. The Angel of Hope statues were inspired by the book “The Christmas Box” by Richard Paul Evans. There are now 100 Angel of Hope statues across the United States. The memorials are for anyone who has lost a child.
I had previously written about these memorials but until recently had not attended a ceremony at one. The ceremony at my local memorial takes place on December 6 every year at 7pm. This is also the time the ceremony takes place at the original Angel of Hope statue in Salt Lake City, Utah. I imagine it may be the same at the other memorials.
My local memorial is in the next small town over from my small town. Despite this and the freezing cold, approximately 200 people turned out for the candlelight vigil. We heard a pre-recorded message from Richard Paul Evans and a couple of songs. Then people were asked to come up to the statue, read their child's name if they felt comfortable doing so and lay a flower either in the angel's outstretched arms or at her feet. It was nice that saying the child's name was not necessary as many of us who've experienced miscarriages lost our babies too soon for them to have even had names.
The clergyman who said the prayer for the ceremony said in his thirty years as a pastor, he had met many families who had lost children. He said he had never once said “I know how you feel,” because he didn't. He stressed the value of meeting with other people who did know how it felt to lose a child. Sometimes, if you've had a miscarriage you may have trouble identifying with people who have lost an older child. Still you have more in common with the person who loses a teenager in a car accident than the person who loses an elderly parent to Alzheimer's. Parents aren't supposed to outlive their children so whether it was an early miscarriage or the loss of an adult child it's especially painful.
One of the worst things about having a miscarriage can be the feelings of isolation. I think it's important to be able to see yourself as part of a bigger group. I definitely felt a sense of belonging and mutual loss at this candlelight vigil. If you have an Angel of Hope statue near you, I would definitely recommend visiting. Author Richard Paul Evans has more information about Angel of Hope statues on his website.