'Grief tree' helps Islanders share feelings during difficult year

·1 min read
Hannah Gehrels hangs a note on the tree outside the Voluntary Resource Centre in Charlottetown. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC - image credit)
Hannah Gehrels hangs a note on the tree outside the Voluntary Resource Centre in Charlottetown. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC - image credit)

A tree in downtown Charlottetown has become a place for people to share their grief and gratitude through what has been a difficult year for many.

Hannah Gehrels came up with the idea as a way to help people express their feelings and to show them they are not alone.

"It's been a really tough year, more than year, for all of us and we're all grieving and experiencing loss both collectively with the pandemic, with continued racial inequalities, with the opioid crisis, with the anniversary of what happened in Nova Scotia a year ago, there's just a lot going on collectively," she said.

"This is just a chance to honour that grief, but also to honour the change and possibility and healing that can happen when we put our attention on things that we're grateful for."

Gehrels says it's important that people see they are not alone in their feelings of grief and gratitude.
Gehrels says it's important that people see they are not alone in their feelings of grief and gratitude.(Sheehan Desjardins/CBC)

The tree is located outside the Voluntary Resource Centre on Prince Street. Beside it is a tiny library box containing markers and paper tags. People are welcome to write on the tags and attach them to the tree.

Gehrels said it was important for her to make space within day-to-day life for her own feelings of grief and gratitude, and she hopes the tree will be as helpful for others as it has been for her.

"It's more about a process than a product," she said.

"I hope that people can find something that is meaningful to them."

A tiny library box contains markers and papers to write the messages and hang them on the tree.
A tiny library box contains markers and papers to write the messages and hang them on the tree.(Sheehan Desjardins/CBC)

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