Hundreds of people gather each year in a Lake Forest cemetery to mourn the loss of their children.
They stand before the statue of an angel and listen to songs and prayers and stories of loss.
Many of them cry. They do not try to hold back the tears.
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And when the time comes, they line up to speak the names of the children they have lost -- and to place flowers for those children at the feet and in the arms of the bronze angel.
For my latest City Beat, I visit the
Angel of Hope statue at El Toro Memorial Park on the night of the memorial, and hear why people find the naming part of the ceremony especially important.
If you've ever wondered what to say to people dealing with such a devastating loss, read
my latest City Beat.
Here's what I sent out on Twitter from the scene:
View the story "Grieving parents gather at a bronze angel" on Storify] Grieving parents gather at a bronze angel Each year on the night of December 6, hundreds gather at the statue of an angel in a Lake Forest cemetery. They come to mourn for and remember the children they have lost. It is a tradition that started with a self-published book, "The Christmas Box," which is a staple of grief support groups.
Storified by LA Times City Beat � Mon, Dec 10 2012 10:32:18
For my next City Beat, I visit a statue of an angel, where people gather each year to mourn & honor children they've lost.LA Times City Beat
Last night, I drove to Lake Forest for a gathering of those who have lost children. They meet each year at a statue.LA Times City Beat
This is the Angel of Hope statue at the El Toro Memorial Park in Lake Forest: http://pic.twitter.com/7KalmxPjLA Times City Beat
There are more than 100 bronze angels like it around the country because of this book: http://pic.twitter.com/WZFl5GO4LA Times City Beat
The self-published book tells of a woman grieving into old age for her dead child: http://pic.twitter.com/dpxrVq9ALA Times City Beat
The child in "The Christmas Box" died on Dec. 6. Those who've lost children gather at the angel statues on that evening.LA Times City Beat
They hold candles and sing and talk about grief and hope: http://pic.twitter.com/PFDcGG4aLA Times City Beat
They also line up to name those they've lost: "My beautiful baby," "my grandson," "my big brother." http://pic.twitter.com/IcL7m7wHLA Times City Beat
They place white carnations on the statue for the children: http://pic.twitter.com/rRDHURBQLA Times City Beat
Last night, it took nearly 20 minutes for the names to be said. There were so many flowers: http://pic.twitter.com/cVjuug9CLA Times City Beat
Oliver Jack Pineda was delivered stillborn. His name is on a brick in front of the angel statue: http://pic.twitter.com/7pOXpt5rLA Times City Beat
His parents, Felipe and Carey, say it helps them to meet others who share and understand such grief: http://pic.twitter.com/ws3xUzKNLA Times City Beat
Riley Anne Ekstrand lived under an hour. Adam and Kelly are expecting again and hopeful: http://pic.twitter.com/NpGaDW9SLA Times City Beat
Brandon Ty Garner lived six hours and is buried near the angel: http://pic.twitter.com/b9zqxg6FLA Times City Beat
His parents, Janet and Ty, visit his grave twice a week. They say a lot of people don't understand: http://pic.twitter.com/fIRp50EiLA Times City Beat
Just being able to say her son's name aloud, to have it heard, means everything to Janet, she says: http://pic.twitter.com/7ksxihFDLA Times City Beat
Brandon's grandfather, Ty Sr., holds his candle & flower. He was so excited to have a grandson, he says: http://pic.twitter.com/oZl3D0AZLA Times City Beat
"We live it every day," Ty Sr. says of the grief the family feels: http://pic.twitter.com/Orib4LT1LA Times City Beat
After a child dies, a place to find solace and others who understand -- my latest City Beat: http://lat.ms/VLDSJYLA Times City Beat
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Photo: Josh Smay, 7, of Foothill Ranch joins his family at his sister Katelyn's gravesite on Thursday during a vigil to honor deceased children. Katelyn died the day she was born. Credit: Alyssa Orr / Los Angeles Times