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Vigil remembers children who died

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The evening of Dec. 13, 2015, was unlike any other for Grafton residents Dave and Terri Zunis.

That night, they found themselves speaking to families whose children died too soon during the first Lorain County Chapter 2458 of The Compassionate Friends worldwide candle-lighting ceremony.

The Lorain County Chapter of The Compassionate Friends, a bereavement group for parents, grandparents and siblings who have experienced the death of a child, was started by Dave and Terri Zunis and fellow Lorain County resident Lisa Barnes.

The Zunises knew all too well what the other families were feeling.

Their son, Dominic, 18, died in March 2013 after the car he was driving plummeted into a pond off state Route 57 near Mennell Road in Grafton Township.

Lisa Barnes’ son, Andrew Barnes, 6, died of leukemia in 1998.

It was the death of their own children that set off a series of events that would lead them to creating a Lorain County organization where no one would feel alone in their grief.

“Our chapter has been growing — unfortunately — but (we) still have a small group compared to other groups,” Zunis said.

The Lorain County Chapter of The Compassionate Friends meets the fourth Thursday of the month at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Grafton.

“We have a few people that come every month and seem to find much comfort in coming,” Zunis said. “We also have those that come now and again, and that is enough for them. There are no rules when it comes to grieving a child.”

To commemorate the 21st annual worldwide candle lighting ceremony, the Lorain County Chapter of Compassionate Friends will join other family and friends around the world at 7 p.m. Sunday at Our Lady Queen of Peace, 708 Erie St., Grafton, for one hour to honor the memories of the children who died. Program registration starts at 6 p.m.

“The Worldwide Candle Lighting creates a virtual 24-hour wave of light as it moves from time zone to time zone,” Zunis said.

“We are asking any parent, grandparent or sibling that attends to bring a framed 5-by-7, or smaller, picture of their loved one for display. We encourage friends and families to come and take part in this worldwide candle lighting service to honor the memory of those that are no longer with us.”

Contact Melissa Linebrink at 329-7243 or mlinebrink@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @MLinebrinkCT.



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