The Dark Candle

A man had a little daughter – an only and much – beloved child. He lived for her – she was his life. So when she became ill and her illness resisted the efforts of the best obtainable physicians, he became like a man possessed, moving heaven and earth to bring about her restoration to health.

His best efforts proved unavailing and the child died. The father was totally irreconcilable. He became a bitter recluse, shutting himself away from his many friends and refusing every activity that might restore his poise and bring him back to his normal self.

But one night he had a dream.

He was in Heaven and was witnessing a grand pageant of all the little child angels. They were marching in an apparently endless line past the Great White Throne. Every white-robed angelic tot carried a candle. He noticed that one child’s candle was not lighted. Then he saw that the child with the dark candle was his own little girl. Rushing to her, while the pageant faltered, he seized her in his arms, caressed her tenderly, and then asked:

“How is it, darling, that your candle alone is unlighted?”

“Father, they often relight it, but your tears always put it out.”

Just then he awoke from his dream. The lesson was crystal clear, and its effects were immediate. From that hour on he was not a recluse but mingled freely and cheerfully with his former friends and associates. No longer would his little darling’s candle be extinguished by his useless tears!


  1. Maureen on August 10, 2013 at 10:52 am

    As a Mental Health counselor who has worked with many a grieving parent this is a wonderful way to explain that you need to celebrate that your child lived not bury yourself in self-serving anger. I will certainly use this story in my practice. Thank you.

    • Paul on August 13, 2013 at 8:34 am

      Glad you can share it in your work, Maureen!

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