In the summer of 2015, the Foundation established an Angel Garden in the Cookeville City Cemetery as a place to honor, remember, and grieve children who pass away in the early stages of life.
It is difficult to imagine, but a few times each year, the remains of premature, stillborn or even short-lived infants become the responsibility of Cookeville Regional Medical Center to care for. The reasons for this are varied and emotional for everyone involved. Sometimes families simply cannot afford burial; other times, they struggle to process the emotions of having lost a child. Remains are cremated and placed into handcrafted wooden caskets donated by local artists. Markers are placed on the site of each grave, and a large communal headstone reads:
“Here we rest. The hands not held, the silenced cries, the dreams unfulfilled. Though our lives were brief, love eternal is given us not for great deeds or the number of our days, but just by being. We were here. Living creatures. Children. We were a part of this world and dwell now in the hearts of those we left behind. For our mothers, fathers and families who must hold hope within and walk through this life without us; we ask for peace, comfort and strength. Here we rest, together, and peacefully wait for a reunion beyond pain, fear and doubt; in the world that is to come.”
–The Children of the Angel Garden
Children interred at the Angel Garden will include those who do not come to full term and pass away at the hospital. These children are more than “products of conception.” These children, though short-lived, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. With your help, the Angel Garden will become the final resting place for infants who pass away due to natural causes or medical complication in the early, unborn stages of life. It will also be a place of rest available for infants born with a terminal condition and for infants who pass away early in life.
You can help. A gift of $125 will enable the Foundation to properly honor and bury one infant who passes away too early. A gift of $800 will sponsor all burials for one year. Any gift you can provide will help us move toward our goal of creating a compassionate, honorable space for these children to rest and for families to mourn.