The Memory Tree

The Memory Tree

by Nancy Hinds, MMM Associate, U.S.A.  26.12. 2021

crib4on190322Way back in 1981, I had been given the gift to care for terminally ill patients in my home. Each one had a life’s story. Some were leaving the world too soon with young family grieving. Others were sharing a lifetime of memories with a spouse; others were “alone”, but finding a caring family with the care being given.

“Please, tell me your story.  Not just what you did in your work, but tell me what has given meaning to your life. What brought joy in your life?  What brought regret or sadness?  I want to know YOU. ( not just the diagnosis and why you are in this bed)”

Many patients came and left this world in our home.  What a divine privilege to hold the hand that is then held by God. God is the ultimate welcoming home.

Grief accelerates in the Holidays.  The loss is so great.  One wife described her anguish as she saw all the Christmas decorations, music, hustle and bustle to buy more, have more!  Her words “Stop, world, the person I love has died.”

How can holidays be supported?  What can be done to bring like grief together compassionately?  Why not create a Memory Tree and ask all the families to come back to our home with an ornament that represents their loved one’s life?

They came.  They shared their stories with each other.  A fireman, a golfer, a chef, a mother, a pilot, a farmer, etc.   Without artistic or designer help, it was the most beautiful tree ever!  Each year, the ornaments went back up and new ones came. People hugged strangers because they knew the heart of their grief.

This is my memory. The tree grew bigger and bigger, relocated to accommodate size and numbers. Today it is the Tree of Life, an event for the community.  Candles are lit as the name of their loved one is read.  There is a Color Guard for our Veterans, music and sharing.  We remember them with love.