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Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare and Gundersen Health System will co-sponsor their annual Candlelight Memorial Service for babies lost during pregnancy or stillborn, as well as infants who die very young, on Monday in Marycrest Auditorium at Mayo-Franciscan at 700 West Ave. in La Crosse.

A social and refreshments will begin at 6:30 p.m., and the program will begin at 7 p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to decorate their own keepsake candles to be used in the candlelight ceremony.

“The holidays bring families together, but when families have lost a baby, they become saddened and not sure how they should celebrate the holiday,” said Opal Hostert, Mayo-Franciscan’s Share Program coordinator.

“This has been a way for these families to come together with others who have experienced similar situations and a way to celebrate and honor their child’s brief time with them,” she said.

Marie Walter lead educator of the Resolve Through Sharing program at the Gundersen Medical Foundation, said, “While most families celebrate children at this time of year, for some there seems little reason to celebrate. For those who have lost an infant, gathering together with others who have been through a similar traumatic experience find that it can be healing, healthy and hope filled.

“While we grieve, we grow — knowing that we’re not alone in our grief. This support and unique celebration of children is meaningful for families and for our community,” Walter said.

Those who plan to attend can RSVP by calling 608-785-0940, ext. 22218.

Anyone experiencing grief during the holidays can call Mayo-Franciscan’s Share Program office at 608-785-0940 or Resolve Through Sharing at Gundersen at 608-775-4747.

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Mike Tighe is the Tribune newsroom's senior citizen. That said, he don't get no respect from the cub reporters as he goes about his duly-appointed rounds on the health, religion and whatever-else-lands-in-his-inbox beats. Call him at 608-791-8446.

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