On March 1, Natick Common will be one of more than 75 sites across the country displaying a large heart-shaped garland of roses in recognition of those who have lost their lives to COVID-19.
The virus has claimed more than half a million lives in the United States, and five times that around the world.
The six-foot floral monument will be laid in Natick Center at 5pm on Monday, March 1, according to Natick resident Janice Vaughn, who reached out to the Floral Heart Project to bring the initiative here. It will remain on the Common until 5pm on March 8 as a symbol of remembrance for lives lost and support for those suffering.
“Our hope is that this memorial will serve as a sign of community support and be a place for all to share a memory, a prayer, or an intention,” Vaughn says.
Vaughn says she heard about the project from a friend in NYC and that it really touched her. “With this pandemic continuing to take lives, I feel like the stats are the news; the human tragedy at each of our doorsteps is incomprehensible – and, in the meantime, daily, people are suffering devastating loss alone and with limited, if any, family and community support,” she says.
Like others, Vaughn’s family has felt the immediate effects of COVID-19 in terms of difficulty visiting older family members and supporting younger family members dealing with the challenges of remote school.
The vaccines bring Vaughn hope, though she worries about the longterm effects of the pandemic. “I fear for all those who are grieving a loss alone, knowing their loved one died a beyond terrifying death alone. I wonder if the repercussions of over one-half million deaths will be with us for a very long time in terms of mental health and sustained grief… That’s why I think small efforts like the Floral Heart Project are essential.”
Vaughn says the town has asked her not to encourage a big crowd on the Comon for obvious reasons, but she’s hoping people will have a chance to stop by while the display is there.
The Floral Heart Project began in New York City by artist Kristina Libby, and has been supported around the country by florists and volunteers.