Atkinson Church hosts candle ceremony for parents who have lost children

Claudia Loucks
Melissa Scott, left, of East Moline, and Lola Rahn, of Atkinson, encourage those who have lost a loved one to join them at a candle lighting ceremony of 
remembrance on Sunday, Dec. 11, at the Atkinson Congregational Church. The two mothers hold 
photographs of their late sons.

Ryan and Lola Rahn have learned they do not walk alone in their grief.

Jordan Rahn was 19 when he died unexpectedly in October of 2013 while playing football with friends at Richmond Hill Park, in Geneseo.

The Rahn couple has found a special way to remember their son and to honor his life. They organized a candle lighting ceremony in 2014 ago in conjunction with The Compassionate Friends worldwide candle lighting.

The ceremony will be at 6:45 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11, at the Atkinson Congregational Church.

There will be a message from Melissa Scott, of East Moline, whose son, Andy Adams was 21 when he lost his life in September of 2014 from injuries incurred in a car accident.

Scott said, “He was killed by a drunk driver. We all find ways to remember our child and one way in which I honor Andy is to speak at area high schools about the dangers of drinking and driving.

“Jordan and Andy grew up together in Atkinson and even though we moved from there, the boys remained friends and Andy was with Jordan when he collapsed at Richmond Hill Park in 2013,” she said.

A social time with refreshments will be after the service of remembrance.

Rahn asked those planning to attend to mail or e-mail her with their child’s first and last name and a photo to be included in a video. Photos may be sent to: P.O. Box 84, Atkinson, 61235, or Mailed photos will be returned. For more information, phone (309) 507-1392.

Those planning to attend the service are asked to take a 5x7 or 8x10 photo to display on the remembrance table. Candles will be provided, and if anyone has a special candle they may also bring that candle.

“If anyone wants to take part in this event, but isn’t able to join us on Dec. 11, they can light a candle at 7 p.m. in memory of their loved one at home and let it burn for one hour,” Rahn said.

With the help of family and friends, the Rahn couple also organized the Jordan Rahn Forever Young 5K/1 Mile run every year in August.

Proceeds from the annual run are used to benefit local children in foster care.

It has taken courage for Rahn to step out of the darkness to plan the memorial events in memory of her son.

“Jordan had heart failure due to cardiomyopathy,” she said. “When we learned he had died, our world stopped turning that day.

“In the darkness that followed, we received a newsletter from The Compassionate Friends. At first, I was not willing to read it. This was not for me. But as the days and months passed I found myself accepting that I needed support from this group. Through their newsletters, website and Facebook page, I have received strength and courage to face each new day.”

When she read about The Compassionate Friends candle lighting, she thought, “What a beautiful way for bereaved parents and families to honor their child’s memory.”

“The worldwide candle lighting unites families and friends around the globe in lighting candles for one hour to honor the memories of their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and grandchildren, of any age, who left too soon.”

Rahn said the worldwide candle lighting is held the second Sunday in December each year and is believed to be the largest mass candle lighting on the globe. As candles burn down in one time zone, they are then lit in the next, creating a virtual 24-hour wave of light around the world.

“For bereaved parents, the holiday season can be exceptionally painful,” Rahn said. “We may sometimes feel that our children are forgotten in the holiday traditions and celebrations. This memorial candle lighting is an event focused on honoring the memory of our precious children, of any age, who left us too soon. Perhaps this may be the beginning of a new holiday tradition for you and your family.”