The holidays are a time of joy to spend with family and friends. But for families who have experienced a loss of a child, it can be the hardest time of year.
Just being told your child has died is one of the worst things a parent can hear. For the Smith family, it was their 20 year-old son Brian five years ago.
"Getting the phone call in the middle of the night, and being told that he collapsed and didn't make it," said Jo Ann Smith, Brian's mother.
Jo Ann and her husband John feel the holidays can be the hardest time of year.
"We didn't put up a tree or decorate or anything like that," said John about the first few years after Brian's passing.
What's helped get them through is "The Compassionate Friends." It's a bereavement group made up purely of families whose children have passed away. December 8th is the organizations annual Worldwide Candle Lighting event.
"It's a light of support, love, compassion, empathy, and we have a chance to remember our child, the way they looked, the way they smiled, and not focus on the way they died, but on the way they lived their life," said Jo Ann.
On tables in front of most parents, sits a picture of their child lost. It's a powerful moment in the room when the candles are lit. John said he'll never forget the first time he held a candle for Brian.
"You just kind of tear up, with all these people and knowing it's a world wide thing, it is pretty impressive," said John.
And while the loss never goes away, being together and holding a hand does help.
To learn more about The Compassionate Friends, click the link below.