Covid-19 'Grieving Garden' helping families heal

One Lafayette organization is helping bring healing through a Covid-19 grieving garden.

Posted: Jan 27, 2021 7:24 AM
Updated: Jan 27, 2021 1:40 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) -- One Lafayette organization is honoring those who've lost their lives to Covid-19 in Tippecanoe County. If you take a walk or drive down S 18th Street you'll see a Covid-19 "Grieving Garden" outside the Lafayette Church of the Brethren. This display was put together by members of the Poor People's Campaign Lafayette-Kokomo region.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his allies launched the Poor People's Campaign back in 1968. It was created to unite poor and impacted communities across America. Now small groups are relaunching the organization across the country including right here in this region.

When you enter the garden you'll find upwards of 140 flags on display with the month and day of each Tippecanoe County Covid-19 death since the first one in March 2020.

"It starts to put into perspective how the deaths have increased," said Anna Lisa Gross, member of the Poor People's Campaign Lafayette-Kokomo region. "The loss, the grieving just keeps increasing."

She's encouraging grieving friends and families to take advantage of this space as Covid-restrictions are still in place.

"Churches aren't meeting in person, or if funerals have been delayed or if they'd been held on zoom, we all need a place to go that feels holy, where we feel like our lives are sacred and this place is available for you to come," said Gross.

The garden is placed near one of Lafayette's busiest roads is not by accident. Gross said beyond serving people directly impacted by the county Covid-19 deaths, she wants everyone passing by to notice the flags and understand the impact Covid has had on the community.

"We want people to really have a sense of, these were real people who have died and these are actual families and colleagues and friends who are missing their loved ones," said Gross.

"We feel blessed and fortunate in being able to host this grieving garden here," said Steve Craine, pastor of the Lafayette Church of the Brethren.

While the garden is located outside the Lafayette Church of the Brethren, Pastor Crain said the entire faith community in Tippecanoe County is standing with those suffering.

"We are not suffering alone, this is a symbol that our community cares," said Crain. "The dead are not just numbers. We care, and it matters."

Organizers held the first Grieving Garden ceremony on Sunday, Jan. 24, where they read a letter and rang a bell for each death. Gross said they plan to host more socially-distanced ceremonies in the future. Members of the Poor People's Campaign will continue adding flags every few weeks as Covid-deaths continue in the county.

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