BRUNSWICK, Maine — The Parkview Campus of Mid Coast Hospital will be the new home to a memorial garden where families can honor children who have died.
The garden is being planned by a nonprofit, Madeline's Mission, named for a 4-year-old girl who died after a battle with a brain tumor.
Madeline's family hopes the garden will fill the need for a peaceful place to grieve and celebrate the lives of children lost too soon.
Amie Marzen and her 2-year-old always carry pieces of her daughter, Madeline with them.
"She loved the color red so we always wear the color red," Marzen explained.
Madeline, who would have turned nine years old in August, died at the age of four from an inoperable brain tumor.
"She loved to make people laugh. She was really just a silly, goofy kid and proud to be a big sister," Marzen said.
Marzen channeled her grief into supporting other parents also surviving the loss of a child.
"Every time I meet a lost parent, I [learn] something about my own journey," Marzen added.
She started Madeline's Mission in honor of her daughter. The nonprofit provides guidance and community for grieving families.
She also wanted to establish a peaceful healing space for families to grieve children outside of a cemetery setting.
After putting out a request on social media, Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick answered the call, gifting a wooded area on the banks of a pond of the hospital's Parkview Campus.
"They make connections with people in the hospital so that it's a natural connection so [they] can share this wonderful space during that time of healing," Kristin Anthony, the chief nursing officer at Mid Coast Hospital said.
The nonprofit is collecting donations and materials for Madeline's Mission Children's Memorial Garden.
The lush space under towering trees will feature bronze butterflies on top of stainless steel rods. Each will be fixed into a granite base, and families will be able to personalize their butterflies in memory of their child.
"Having the butterflies will help people keep saying their name," Marzen explained.
As donations continue to come in, volunteers hope to expand the garden to include a labyrinth, fairy houses, and water features to help families celebrate their loved ones.
Construction is expected to begin next spring and could be complete by the fall.
Marzen envisions annual gatherings to honor children lost too soon. "It's a space we can come to on Mother's Day and maybe do a butterfly release of real butterflies," she added.