DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Christmas is a time for celebration, but for those who have lost a child, it can be tough.
Hundreds gathered at the Angel of Hope statue at Westgate Park for the 3rd annual candlelight vigil.
It's an opportunity for people to mourn someone they've lost in the company of others.
For some, it even provides a sense of closure.
Yipssy Whaley lost her niece to complications from sickle cell almost two years ago.
Although they were thousands of miles apart, her passing took a toll on Yipssy.
"Even though I wasn't there, we keep in contact a lot, and we used to talk all the time,” said Whaley. “She used to love to go shop, new clothes, just like any other 12 year old."
The distance kept her from being able to mourn and find closure.
"I wasn't able to go to the funeral, because it's so far away,” said Whaley. “I don't have a place to go, like I can't go to the cemetery."
So, she came to the Angel of Hope candlelight vigil to tell her niece's story, and be surrounded by people who can relate to what she's going through.
"A lot of times, when it's not your own child, you can love them as much as your own child,” said Whaley. “Sometimes I think people don't understand that little part."
The ceremony featured parents telling stories, singing and reading poetry about their children.
Everyone was given a flower to put at the base of the Angel of Hope statue in memory.
"Their greatest fear is that their child will be forgotten, and so this is a way of remembering their child," said Steve Hardwick, Executive Director of the Wiregrass Angel of Hope.
You can find more information about the Wiregrass Angel of Hope on their Facebook page.