The angel statue | Courtesy Terry and Linda Hale
IDAHO FALLS — While the holiday season brings happiness and laughter to many, for some the holidays are a time of pain and sorrow due to the loss of a child.
On Tuesday, Dec. 6, the annual Christmas Box Angel vigil will be held at the Fielding Memorial Cemetery in Idaho Falls. The vigil is meant to help those grieving to come together, support each other and celebrate the lives of children who died.
The tradition for the event comes from Richard Paul Evans, the author of “The Christmas Box.” The story follows a young grieving mother after the loss of her child. In the book, the mother often visits a monument of an angel to grieve and heal.
After the success of Evans’ book, he commissioned an angel monument in Salt Lake City, Utah as a place for parents to grieve and heal. The monument was dedicated on Dec. 6, 1994, the same day the child passed away in his book “The Christmas Box.” The date is also celebrated as ‘Children’s Day’ throughout the world.
Terry and Linda Hale of Idaho Falls have been putting on the local Christmas Box Angel vigil for a number of years now in honor of their grandbaby who died in their home nearly 25 years ago.
“Her name was JaeLyn Nielsen. She passed away in our home from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). She was 21 months old,” Terry said.
After that, Linda told Terry that they needed to build a Christmas Box Angel in Idaho Falls. They were able to raise $26,000 for the statue. The statues are worldwide, and there are over 135. Click here to view the list.
Courtesy Terry and Linda Hale
“When we put the statue there, we committed to one of these (vigils) every year,” Linda said. “We look forward to it because it’s so consoling to be with other people who have been where we have been. It’s just comforting to be together and to share what we all have in common.”
This year, Terry and Linda expect to have at least 100 people show up to the vigil, and they welcome everyone.
“We invite everyone to come whether you have lost a child or not. It’s a beautiful vigil,” Terry said. “You can bring a flower to place at the base of the statue. That’s the most touching part of the vigil when we ask everybody there to put a flower at the base of the statue and then to say the name of their deceased child. There’s not a dry eye in that place when that happens.”
The event on Dec. 6 will be from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. There will be speakers this year, including Dr. Laramie Wheeler and Joshua Wheeler. Josh was recently elected to the Idaho State House of Representatives. They will speak about the loss of their son, Han. Another speaker, Tom Daniels, will tell about the loss of his son, Casey.
There will be music provided by members of the Idaho Falls Sounds Choir.
“Dress really warm. We have not had a warm Dec. 6th ever since we have been doing this,” Terry said.
Courtesy Terry and Linda Hale
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