Christmas Box Angel Vigil to be held Thursday for parents who have lost a child

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Courtesy Terry and Linda Hale

IDAHO FALLS– While the holiday season is joyful for many, others feel grief and sorrow because of the loss of a child.

On Thursday Dec. 6, the 11th annual Christmas Box Angel Vigil will be held at the Fielding Memorial Cemetery in Idaho Falls. The vigil is designed to be uplifting and providing those who have experienced loss to meet together, offer support, love and reassurance.

Inspiration to 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. Evans’ story became the first book to simultaneously reach number one on The New York Times bestseller list for both the paperback and hardcover editions.

“The book is really about the loss of a child, especially my little sister Sue, and the pain my mother felt over losing her, Evans told EastIdahoNews.com last year. “My mother wasn’t allowed to grieve. Until this book came along, she held it inside for decades.”

A statue exists in Salt Lake City, Utah, of a young child angel with outstretched arms, reading “our little angel.” The first statue is suspected to have been destroyed, but after the success of Evans’ book, he commissioned the angel monument 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.

Over 140 people have erected monuments around the world including an Idaho Falls couple.

Terry and Linda Hale have organized this event for the past 11 years. The two lost a grandchild around 20 years ago and eventually decided to build a statue just like the one in Salt Lake City. They went through the process of raising $26,000 for the statue and it became the 84th angel monument constructed worldwide. It is the only one in the Idaho.

“It was done for the grieving parents,” the Hales said. “There is no greater pain than losing a child.”

The Hales say the vigil is the only place where everyone knows what you are going through and it is a place where everyone can talk, hug, cry and grieve the loss of a child.

This year, Tami Hale Nielsen, Terry and Linda’s daughter, and Debbie Wood Martin will be speaking at the event. Music will be provided by the Idaho Falls Sounds Choir.

The Choir will sing an original song written by the Hales with lyrics that are inscribed on the back of the monument. They said the best part of the vigil is when those who have lost a child place a flower at the base of the monument, saying the name of the child in their remembrance.

“Saying their name out loud is another validation they are there and real,” Terry Hale said.

Fielding Memorial Cemetery is located on South Yellowstone Boulevard in Idaho Falls. The candlelight vigil begins at 6 p.m. Those who in attendance are encouraged to bring a flower in remembrance of their loved ones.

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