On December 1, 2012 at 6 p.m., Rowan Tree Foundation held its 6th annual Candlelight Remembrance Event. This event is held each year in December at RTF Angel Memorial Plaza in McCabe Meadows Park in Parker, Colorado. The purpose of the event is to support families as they remember their babies and children that have passed on and to give them a time and place in which to do so.
Each year the event features a theme; this year’s theme was stars. As Corinne O’Flynn, founder of RTF, shared at the event stars were chosen for several reasons:
• Stars represent the connectedness parents and families still have with their children who have passed on before them.
• The Taoist have a vision of the stars being knots in the net of heaven, which bind together everything in heaven and earth (connectedness). It is wide-meshed, but does not let anything through.
• Many ancient peoples believe the stars are our loved ones who have gone before us, always visible in the night sky, emitting the light and ever present; always connected to us.
• Rabbi Kushner, in his book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, reflects on the need for darkness in order to appreciate the light. He uses the old saying, “When it is dark enough you can see the stars.” This is especially true of people on a grief journey.
• A far back as history can tell us, the stars have been used to navigate on land and sea so travelers could always find their way home.
Just under 200 children were remembered at this event, with about 300 people in attendance. Star-shaped ornaments were made and personalized for each child remembered. The ornaments were displayed at the event and then given to each child’s family. Luminaria with stars decorated the path to RTF Memorial Plaza. The event also included a reading of each child’s name, at which time their family placed a white carnation at the foot of the Christmas Box Angel statue in remembrance of them.
“It is my belief that healing in our grief is not about cutting our loved one out of our life and ‘moving on.’ Instead, it appears that finding ways to connect and maintain some sort of relationship with our deceased loved one allows a sense of peace and comfort. For many people, this connection can be found through engaging in rituals and ceremonies. It can also be validating and comforting to engage in these rituals with other people who are also grieving a loved one,” shared Shadia Duske, licensed psychotherapist of Luna Counseling Center.
A hot chocolate reception was held immediately following the event at the Parker United Methodist Church. Here participants could meet other families who have lost children, as well as learn more about RTF.
“I would like to thank all the volunteers and our volunteer board for all the help in making this event possible. It takes a lot of work!” said O’Flynn, who founded RTF after the death of her daughter, Rowan in 1999.
Annually, RTF sees 25-35% growth in participation at this event and at their Butterfly Release Event held in June of each year. The current public address system used at the events is not designed to be used by such large crowds. Because of this donations are currently needed to purchase a new public address system. You can also support RTF simply by “liking” their Facebook page. Their goal is to reach 1,000 likes by the end of 2012.