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Couple cares for field of flowers to honor late son who struggled with PTSD

A couple from Michigan in the United States has been maintaining a field of flowers on their farm after losing their son in 2015.

Mateo Donaldson, the son of John Van Voorhees and Joan Donaldson, died by suicide after suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when he served a tour of duty in Afghanistan, WZZM reported today, June 17.

Mateo was a beekeeper at his parents’ farm, Pleasant Hill Blueberry Farm, and left behind a wife and three kids. His grave is about 200 feet from the field.

“We decided to create the poppy field in memory of him, because all these flowers feed the bees and butterflies, which he loved caring for so much,” Joan told WZZM.

field of poppy flowers in Michigan
Image: Pleasant Hill Farm

Van Voorhees has been planting the poppies in the fall for two years now. The field is in peak bloom, with visitors coming daily since the start of June. The flowers last until the 4th of July.

The field has only two rules: no walking on the field and no picking of the flowers.

Joan said there have been soldiers who have found some comfort in the field. “A couple of other veterans have come to me and said, ‘I have PTSD, but when I’m standing out there looking over that field, I can feel so much peace.’” Niña V. Guno /ra


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