The adage goes: “No parent should have to bury a child.” While nothing truly heals the pain caused by this loss, some communities are trying to ease the pain one statue at a time.
Across the United States, parents who have lost children are putting together Angel of Hope memorial gardens in honor of their loved ones. The idea is simple: a serene statue of an angel rests among the trees in a park, giving a space for families to sit and think about their children.
In this sense, the statue’s appearance isn’t even the most important part of this memorial art piece. The angels vary slightly depending on where you see the memorial, but all of them have a few characteristics in common. They usually depict a cherubic angel, with arms spread open, gazing up toward the sky. Most visitors place a bouquet of flowers in the angel’s arms. What matters to visitors is the symbolism of the statue, and the space it occupies, rather than the statue itself.
When parents lose a child, they can feel isolated from the world around them. Not only are they coping with the loss of someone they loved deeply, but they rarely have other people they can relate their experiences to in their circle of friends.
Having a space dedicated to this specific loss can help some families heal, knowing that they are not alone in their experience.
The loss of a child is often a sudden experience, and something that is rare. We are used to the idea of slowly getting older, and eventually coming to terms with death due to old age. The idea of someone dying before they have graduated from high school is difficult to grasp. Having a space dedicated to this specific loss can help some families heal, knowing that they are not alone in their experience.
Readers were inspired by the angel statues in his story, and decided to create their own version of the memorial in their communities.
The Angel of Hope memorial began as an idea in a book. Richard Paul Evans wrote The Christmas Box about a woman who comes to terms with the death of her child. Readers were inspired by the angel statues in his story, and decided to create their own version of the memorial in their communities.
A parent experiences a wide range of emotions when a child dies. In addition to feelings of sadness and shock from losing a loved one, parents might feel guilty, thinking they could have done more to protect their child. They might feel they need to overprotect their surviving children. They might feel resentful of families who have healthy children. These natural emotions overwhelm many people, yet many do not have a space they can go to for relief. They don’t get the time to think about what they are feeling, and accept their emotions as part of the healing process.
These memorial gardens provide a quiet place to reflect. Studies have shown that any type of quiet meditation has a meaningful impact for many people when they heal from a loss. Even if you don’t have an Angel of Hope statue in your community, you can create a space that reminds you of your loved one, and dedicate it to quiet remembrance.