The Tree of Remembrance

The Tree of Remembrance took form soon after Diane Van Dyk took up her post as CEO at South Coast Hospice.

 The tree has real meaning for those that are grieving and knowing that somewhere their loved one’s name is shining on, brings healing and compliments the work of the grief and bereavement team.  The Tree represents Life, and that despite sadness, there is always growth.

With the idea in mind, many places were explored around the hospice, looking to find the perfect space, a place that needed a loving touch.  One place in particular was the small courtyard where the patients would sit, finding a quiet place in the sun, a space for thought and contemplation.

The courtyard needed something ‘unique and appropriate’ and it was the perfect setting for the tree of remembrance. “It came to my mind that I would like to grow a tree in the court yard. A painted tree against the court yard wall. A tree that we, the staff, the patients, their loved ones and friends could add to, leaf by leaf. A tree whose leaves would shimmer silver in the sunlight and could still be seen on the darkest day.” says Diane. With that picture in mind, a well trusted artist was called on, who immediately understood the concept and brought it to life.

On the painted tree, each leaf has a space for a small plaque and family members, on the death of their loved one, and in their own time, choose a leaf on which to place their plaque. A simple ceremony is arranged, a gentle word, a pot of tea, a place provided for love, compassion and remembrance. These lovingly placed plaques create a shimmer as you look at the tree and the staff, patients and their families are reminded of the beauty of life.

“The tree, which is outside the small chapel brings a mindfulness to all those who visit the hospice” says Diane. “Many people find it difficult returning after a loved one has died, however coming back to choose a leaf and  stand in ceremony, brings much comfort and affirmation to the bereaved and to the dedicated team who care for every patient with love and compassion.”