Every year for the last 22 years parents from all over the state have made their way to St Matthews Church in West Pennant Hills for a Christmas service to remember their children who’ve passed away or are missing.
Alex Woods is one of the 150 congregation who comes to the annual Service of Remembrance to remember her only son John, killed in a car accident in Albury 14 years ago.
“After John died, despite support from family and friends, I didn’t know anyone close to me who had experienced the death of a child who I could talk to about the pain and huge sense of loss I was going through,” said Alex, a Pennant Hills resident.
“When I came to the service for the first time I found it very healing. There were people there going through the same experience as me and that was a huge comfort.
“It’s a particularly painful time of year at Christmas and the Service helps recognise our loss and gives us a chance to talk about it with others in the same situation, particularly at the supper afterwards. I felt unconditional welcoming I hadn’t experienced elsewhere.”
During the service on December 7, which will include an address from King’s School Chaplain Stephen Edwards, families are invited to place a flower on the communion table in recognition of the life of their child who has died or is missing.
The Service has proved to be an enormous support to hundreds of families as it provides a message of hope and peace – while also enabling them to physically do something in recognition of their child’s life.
Lynne Molan, whose son Craig passed away in 1987 at the age of 15, said: “Looking back on a journey is so different from standing at the beginning trying to look ahead when the feelings of anguish, emptiness and sheer isolation seemed so overwhelming. To live through the next minute, let alone the whole day, seemed at times too much.
“It’s always difficult living in a world without one of your children but on special occasions such as Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries, it’s particularly hard as that’s when we’d normally be doing something special for our child. The longing that is reaching out to the child cannot be fulfilled.
“The service and the supper afterwards have proved to be a wonderful time of fellowship as people who’ve never met before, gain comfort from being with those who share that common bond – the love for their children.