Compassion is defined as the “concern for the sufferings of others.”

Even though the initial thought is that of sympathy, another element of compassion is empathy – the understanding of suffering, because what is being experienced is similar to that which others have already faced.

Demonstration of empathy is what the Compassionate Friends support group is all about.

This group is hosting an event Dec. 8 known as the worldwide candle lighting ceremony. 

The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at The Tables in Redwood Falls.

According to Char Ellig, the Compassionate Friends has been a great support for her and her husband, Tom, since the loss of the of their son 25 years ago, adding they feel it is now important to provide that same support for others who have had a similar experience.

“The holidays can be tough,” said Ellig, adding the Compassionate Friends annual Worldwide Candle Lighting ceremony is a great opportunity for people who have lost a child to gather together with others.

The Compassionate Friends help people who are facing loss to understand that what they are feeling is normal, and that it is OK to alter plans during those hard times, such as Christmas and birthdays, and that those milestone times, like when their child would have graduated from high school can be hard.

Prior to the candle lighting ceremony, members of the Compassionate Friends will meet to set up luminaries and to make Christmas ornaments.

Those who plan to attend are encouraged to bring a special photo of their loved one, whether it be a child, grandchild or sibling.

One may bring their own candle, although there will be some provided.

“Everyone is absolutely welcome,” said Ellig, adding this is not just for people who have lost young children.

To learn more, send an e-mail to

– Photo courtesy of the Internet Public Domain