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Forest of Fallen Angels: How one eastern Iowa group remembers infants who have died

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LA PORTE CITY, Iowa (KWWL)- The pain and heartbreak of losing a child is devastating for families. It is hard to fathom and a parent's worst nightmare.

After the tragic loss of their own young son to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) almost four years ago, Elisha Palmer and her husband Mark started the Knox Blocks Foundation. They are on a mission to help other families through difficult times.

Last year with the help of Escape Landscapes, the foundation created a nursery of hope at Hickory Hills Park.

Since then, families from across the Hawkeye state with both new and old losses have taken part.

More than 50 trees stand at the park, each representing a young life who loved and was loved.

"It is a place where families can come and visit and feel close to their baby," Elisha said. "Regardless of how short their time was, they have impacted many people, people who have loved them, people who never met them."

This is the second year for the event. The foundation holds it each year in October since it is pregnancy loss, infant death and SIDS awareness month.

At the event, families can plant a tree in honor of their lost little ones.

During last year's event, the Admire family planted a tree for their son Matthew who passed away from Trisomy 13 in February 2019.

Haley Admire said the family comes to the tree often because she feels she can connect with Matthew.

"We love to have picnics by our tree," she said. "Just being able to come out here and have a place to talk to Matthew and honor him is just so special."

When it is completed, it will be a forest of little angels. Each tree and family tied together through grief, loss and heartbreak.

"When you can come together, and you can be in this group, and you can be surrounded by people who completely understand your pain and your loss and your grief, and you don't have to say anything, you just get it," Elisha said. "It is a feeling I can't even put into words."

It will be a lasting monument to the angels whose halos faded too soon.

While it is a special place for the families, Palmer said she hopes it serves as a reminder for those passing by.

"When people come, they see this beautiful park with all these trees and understand what each tree represents," she said. "I hope they pause for a moment and acknowledge each one of these babies."

You can learn more about Nursery of Hope by clicking here.

You can learn more about the Knox Blocks Foundation by clicking here.

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Daniel Perreault


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