October 26, 2013
More than 400 people gathered at the Children’s Park of Tyler to observe the 11th Annual Day of Remembrance, an event that serves to commemorate children who lost their lives.
More than 110 children were represented during the solemn ceremony.
Jennifer Carson, president of Children’s Park of Tyler, said the day serves to help families grieve together.
“If you’ve never walked through grief before, or if you’ve never seen it modeled, you don’t know what to do with those feelings,” she said. “Most people don’t do anything and stuff them. But it comes out; it doesn’t go away. So that’s why we do this; we want to provide a safe place for people to just let some of that emotion out that’s already inside them.”
Ms. Carson started the event 11 years ago, after the loss of her son, Braden, at birth in August 1999.
She said she attended a similar event in Dallas and had the idea of bringing it to Tyler.
Ms. Carson also said being around families with the same great loss could yield positive results for grieving individuals.
“That’s a big part of it, too. A lot of people feel alone in their grief, so they can come to this and realize, ‘Look at all these people who have lost a child, (too).’ They’re not alone. There’s a lot of comfort in that.”
The ceremony began with an opening prayer, a song by Carol King, and then continued with thoughts on grief by Tyler psychiatrist Dr. Judy Googins.
The event continued with a roll call of all the children represented, during which families placed Battenburg lace angels with their child’s name on trees around the park.
The event concluded with a live butterfly release by the families present.
During her time speaking, Dr. Googins mentioned how all families present belonged to a temporary foster family who all shared the same great pain.
She spoke of the loss of her 15-year-old child, Joshua, who took his own life after struggling with depression in 1992.
She said while the pain of losing a child never goes away, families eventually learn to live with the pain through grieving and the help of family and community.
Dr. Googins said the event would hopefully give hope to families present, by acknowledging their loss and grief.
She said sharing the pain along with a like-minded community is important, since it’s such a specific loss.
“It’s a particular and peculiar kind of grief that only those who’ve been through it really understand,” she said. “And we’re reminded of it all our lives, because children aren’t supposed to die before their parents.”
Ms. Carson stressed the importance of grief after a loss such as these.
“We don’t grieve well as a culture, so it’s very difficult to find safe places for people to grieve when they have a loss,” she said. “That’s the reason we do this ceremony, to provide a place for people to come to grieve.”