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ROCKLAND COUNTY COMPASSIONATE FRIENDS
CHILDREN’S MEMORIAL DAY

SEPTEMBER 29, 2002


GRIEVING FAMILIES FIND STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
Memorial for lost children draws 100 for music and prayer


Shayna Finck
SPECIAL TO THE JOURNAL NEWS



More than 100 gathered around a garden planted in the memory of lost children, grandchildren and siblings to share grief and strength at the 11th annual Children's Memorial Day.

Dozens of mums, roses and photographs lined the edges of the garden, maintained by the Rockland County Compassionate Friends at Veteran's Memorial Park. Attendees remembered their loved ones through music, prayers and readings.

"It is often said that The Compassionate Friends is a group to which no one would choose to belong," began Anita Becker, leader of the organization's local chapter. "We have paid the highest dues. Yet those of us who have traveled this difficult road are best equipped to reach out to others who are groping with the fresh and raw pain of grief."

Penny Buccafuri of Suffern is one of those members coping with the recent pain of which Becker spoke. Buccafuri, whose 34-year-old son, Anthony, died in a car accident in December, tearfully described the void that has come into the lives of her family since losing her son. Buccafuri acknowledged she had mixed emotions about being part of yesterday's service, but said it's helpful to be with others who have lost children and siblings. Of being a member of Compassionate Friends, Buccafuri said, "It's good to have a place where you can be yourself, away from your happy, smiling face.”

Singer-songwriter Jeanine Higgins provided one of the more emotional moments of the service when she sang two songs dedicated to the son she lost in 1998. Many of the gatherers were wiping away tears as Higgins performed her compositions "Angel” and "Don't Forget Me," both dedicated to her son, Reid, who was killed in a car accident.

As part of their annual tradition, members released a balloon presenting the spirit of their lost loved ones as the person's name read aloud.

The local chapter holds open meetings at 8 p.m. on the third Tuesday of every month at the Neighborhood Alliance Church, 253 Ehrhardt Road, Pearl River. The group also participates in a candlelighting event on National Children's Memorial Day on the second Sunday in December.

For further information about the Rockland chapter, call 845-398-9762.
For information about the national organization,
call the toll-free number 877-969-0010 or visit the
Web site www.compassionatefriends.org.












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