Memorializing children lost in the womb can be very difficult. Often, there is not a burial and therefore no place of remembrance. Angel of Hope Memorial Garden in Coleraine has just opened up a lovely solution to this delicate concern.
A children’s memorial garden
According to the Belfast Telegraph, The Angel of Hope Memorial Garden was established by Andrea McAleese to honor her daughter, Roma, after she tragically died at age 3. In 2009, little Roma was playing in the front yard of her Coleraine home when she was struck by a vehicle. For six years, Andrea worked tirelessly to create a lasting way to honor not only Roma, but all children who left us too soon.
The garden was dedicated to children and is the site of an annual event where parents come and place a star on one of the trees to honor their child. Last year, over 100 stars were placed in a solemn event. This year, Andrea unveiled a plaque that dedicates a new expansion of the memorial garden to those children who were still-born or neonatal deaths. This new section provides a place of much-needed solace for grieving families.
Maintaining the garden
As with all memorial gardens, perpetual maintenance is a great concern. Andrea says they rely on fundraisers and events to keep the maintenance of the garden funded. Many of these events are put on by parents who have a place in the garden for their child.
Janet Dixon took up this challenge in a creative way by raising funds through a leap into Ballintoy Harbour. Her efforts raised over ￡700 towards the upkeep and expansion of the garden. Janet and her husband James lost their daughter, Gabrielle, just 11 days after she was born.
An open invitation
Events like Janet’s fundraiser and the annual memorial gathering both pull double-duty in their work. The fundraiser brings in money to help maintain the garden, and the gathering is a time for families to remember their loved ones. However, they also both hope to raise awareness that such memorials exist so that those who have lost may find this place and join in honouring their children.