The pain of losing a child never goes away for a parent. For many, Compassionate Friends, a national organization, provides a way for parents to cope with the loss and realize they are not alone in their grief.

The Northwest Georgia chapter of Compassionate Friends joined chapters around the world Sunday night for a candlelight vigil to honor the memory of their children or grandchildren.

President Bill Clinton designated the second Sunday of December as National Children’s Memorial Day to honor their memory. The Rome observance started in 1998 and has been taking place annually since then.

Sandra Stinson, a co-founder of the local chapter, lost her daughter Misty Stockton and her best friend T.J. Barnett in a car wreck while they were on their way back to Rome from Athens in 1997.

“When you’ve lost a child you immediately start looking for answers/ Why did my child die?” Stinson said. “Honestly, you’re looking for a way to bring them back.”

Barnett’s mother, Terry Barnett, is a leader of the local group as well.

Janet Robertson lost a grandson to muscular dystrophy in 2018 — and, six months later, she lost her daughter in a tragic shooting incident.

Donna Bing lost a grandchild to suicide. A text that her granddaughter sent four days before taking her life is still on Bing’s phone.

During the service Sunday night, parents read poems, there was special music and a video was shown of a meeting between a woman whose son had died and the girl who received his heart in a transplant.

Stinson said the pain of losing her daughter is still there, 22 years later, but “it gets easier if you work it.” Robertson said the group has given her hope and taught her ways to help get through her grief.

After her granddaughter’s death, Bing said, “I don’t think I could have made it through that first month without these ladies.”

Compassionate Friends, a non-profit organization, meets the second Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. at Redmond Regional Medical Center

Atlanta will host the national Compassionate Friends 2020 conference in July. For additional information visit the website at www.compassionatefriends.org.

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