Gardens of Grace was founded by Paula Harmon in August 2017, less than eight months after the death of her three year old daughter, Grace.
A food-borne infection early in Paula's pregnancy had resulted in Grace's fraternal twin dying at 17 weeks gestation, and in Grace being delivered in distress at 26 weeks. After Grace's unexpected death in December of 2016, resulting from prematurity issues, Paula traveled to the United Kingdom to help with the grief. While there, she discovered a number of memorial gardens aimed at both early loss and organ donation. As well, one of Grace's favourite Nova Scotia authors suggested doing something in the gardens of her newly established bookstore in memoriam to children who have died. The idea of creating a memorial garden started to grow.
In researching garden ideas, Paula discovered the importance of bereavement care for parents of early loss. She also found that, in Nova Scotia, memory-making and bereavement care practices were inconsistent from hospital to hospital and community to community. The subject was hardly on the radar of government. Using social media, Paula created a Facebook group and met other motivated parents of loss, and Gardens of Grace became a practical reality.
The first achievement of Gardens of Grace, only two months after becoming a registered non-profit organisation, was to work with Nova Scotia MLA Tim Houston to reintroduce a Private Member’s Bill in the Assembly. Bill 38 became the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Act, SNS 2017, c 3, with Royal Assent on 13 October 2017. It states that, throughout the province, in each and every year, October 15th shall be kept and observed under the name of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.
Gardens of Grace will continue to work for the benefit of parents, supporters, and carers into the future.