Lake City May Have A New Memorial Honoring Infant Loss
It was 2017 when a pregnant Mandy Clark learned that the son she had hoped for, Amos, would not live to birth.
“At that point, I was about 20 weeks into our pregnancy, and we made the choice just to celebrate his life and to enjoy the rest of the time that we had with him, for however long that was,” Clark says.
In that summer, at about 32 weeks, they found out Amos had died. Clark would give birth shortly after, but not before the Clark family celebrated the life that almost was.
“The hard thing about having a funeral when you should be at home with a brand new baby is very, very devastating,” says Clark. “A hard season in our life, but also a very beautiful season. We felt so supported and so loved.”
“It’s just a way to bring healing so that grief doesn’t stay inside,” says Clark. “When grief stays inside, it’s actually very unhealthy.”
Clark says it will be a safe place for anyone in the community to grieve. She says she has seen people attend funerals and wander through the graves. The garden would offer them a place to sit and reflect.
“If you’ve ever been to like a war memorial, war memorials are not just for people who have served in the military. They’re for everyone there, for everyone to honor those for which the memorial is for,” she says. “It’s not going to be exclusive at all. We just want people to be able to come into this space- it’ll be so beautiful –for them to remember how precious life is because it’s amazing.”
Clark is working with landscape designer, Mikayla Sloat, of Lakeside Landscaping, to design the garden. Sloat herself experienced a miscarriage in 2019.
The two women are designing the garden with their grief in mind, but also that of other women, and those women who generations before couldn’t talk about their experiences due to stigma.
“Society tells us that we shouldn’t really talk about it and when people don’t know that you were pregnant to begin with that loss kid of feels more of a secret because nobody knew it was there,” says Sloat. “When she brought up the space and said the purpose of it that just really touched my heart and pulled all my heart strings. I would have loved to have that space to go to when my husband and I were walking through that loss.”
Clark says the proposed idea and design have gone before the Lake City Council. There will be a council meeting with an opportunity for public comment on April 11th for anyone who wishes to offer an opinion on the project.
If approved, Clark says they will need help from the community to create and maintain the space which is proposed on a triangle plot in the center of the cemetery’s south side.