Connection, comfort, and hope. . . in a tree

by Beth Brittain, HPCCR Chaplain / Grief Counselor

The heart tree at LDHH-H

The heart tree at LDHH-H

I was sitting in the conference room at Levine & Dickson Hospice House – Huntersville acquiring CEU (continuing education unit) credits by watching a Hospice Foundation of America “Living with Grief” program on caring for veterans at the end of life.  I almost always sit at the back of the room, near a door, and close to the windows.  On that day, I was on the last row of tables right at the window. 

The content was good — learning more about how to companion those who have served our country is always valuable.  But on that day, the windows drew my attention—a storm was predicted and appeared to be approaching.  I found myself listening to the presentation while keeping an eye on the window, watching the ever-changing landscape of clouds as the storm approached. 

I was looking out over the labyrinth toward the patient entrance at LDHH – H.  There was a tree in my view that I have seen hundreds of times.  When I changed my focus from the clouds to this tree (which seemed to call my attention), I noticed its shape for the first time — from my perspective, it took the shape of a heart.  And a special heart at that—one that had some holes in between its branches and leaves.  It seemed so appropriate to recognize this tree during this special training and in this special place.  A heart-shaped tree with holes—holes that allow light through, but also reflect the brokenness that loss brings. 

A few days later, I was co-facilitating a grief support group for people who have lost a spouse.  They have shared lots of feelings and thoughts, but the prominent word always used is ‘heartbroken.’  As part of the session, I pointed out the tree and asked if they noticed anything special about it.  They saw the heart shape and many noticed the ‘holes.’ They all thought it very symbolic that the tree is where it is and that, while it reflects growth, it also depicts the brokenness of loss.  In each session, I notice group members reflecting on this tree — finding connection, comfort, and hope.

Explore posts in the same categories: awareness, education, end of life, grief, hospice, Levine & Dickson Hospice House, spiritual care

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3 Comments on “Connection, comfort, and hope. . . in a tree”

  1. Sheri Lowe Says:

    I love this. Thanks for sharing…now I have to go see for myself!

  2. Nancy Cole Says:

    I can’t wait to check this out the next time I’m there.


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