The Healing Hearts support group will host its annual holiday Children’s Memorial Tree dedication and hanging of ornaments at 11 a.m. Saturday at Jackie Creamer’s The Dance Studio, 1003 Main.
The memorial tree is to honor children who have died, whether recently or many years ago.
“Anyone in the community is welcome to come and honor a child,” said Ann Leiker, director at the Center for Life Experiences.
The event has been hosted in various locations, but for the past 10 years, it has been in the downtown area.
“We are very grateful to Jackie Creamer for allowing us to host this event at her studio,” Leiker said.
The tree will be displayed in the Dance Studio’s window during the holiday season.
During the tree dedication, each child’s name will be read, and an ornament will be hung in their memory.
Leiker said in previous years they have hung as many as 200 ornaments.
According to Leiker, and parents of the Healing Hearts support group, the event is a way to honor their children and ensure they are never forgotten.
“We buy our son, Cody, a new ornament every year for our tree at home, also,” Carolyn Younger said.
She and her husband, Neal, lost their 16-year-old son in an automobile accident in 2009.
“We would be celebrating with him if he were here, so why shouldn’t we continue to include him?” she said.
Leiker said the database, which includes an area from 60 to 80 miles away, shows there are more than 250 parents who have lost a child.
“Yet, there are many who feel they are the only ones who are going through this,” Leiker said. “That’s what the Healing Hearts group is all about.”
Healing Hearts is a support group that meets on the second Thursday of each month and gives participants an opportunity to connect with other parents and family members who have lost a child.
“We have a deep urge to talk about our children, to say their names,” Debra Creamer said.
She lost her 20-year-old son, Jordan, three years ago.
The group allows those who are grieving to work through it with others who are on the same path to healing.
“The last thing you want to hear is that you just need to get over it,” Neal Younger said. “These people understand.”
Usually, there are anywhere from 10 to 12 people who attend the Healing Hearts meetings each month, but the group also has a Facebook page to connect with those who can’t make it in person.
Linda Basgall, who lost her infant grandson, Daniel, said the group becomes a family.
“We hate to have people join this group, but we’re here for them. It helps to have people who have been through it as well,” Basgall said.
The Children’s Memorial Tree dedication Saturday is just one way the family members can keep the memory of their loved ones alive.
“They may be gone, but they will never be forgotten,” Basgall said.
For more information about the Memorial Tree dedication or the Healing Hearts support group, contact Ann Leiker at (785) 259-6859 or email email@example.com.