The tags attached the bush have the names of those to be remembered.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The gardens at the Mary Spitzer Center got a little bit bigger on Tuesday with the dedication of a variegated dogwood near the south entrance.
This bush, however, was special in that it also carried the memories of departed loved ones, their names written on small cards cut out in the form of doves.
The short ceremony attended by about two dozen people was part of the bereavement services offered by HospiceCare in the Berkshires.
"It's for people to have an opportunity to honor their loved ones who are no longer with us," said HospiceCare's Julia Couture. "We provide bereavement to anyone in the community who has lost a loved one whether they are on hospice or not. They'll see the bush grow and remember their loved ones."
Pat Lescarbeau, an outreach coordinator, said HospiceCare has done a number of events at the Senior Center, such as a candle ceremony planned in November.
"All of it is related to pain and loss," she said. "So this was the memorial planting with the names of the loved ones."
Emily Chin provided the music ministry, playing guitar and singing "Imagine" and "What A Wonderful World." Charles Young, a spiritual counselor with HospiceCare, acknowledged the many losses of those gathered — from spouses to siblings, from neighbors to communities.
"Losses have a lot of form to them, a lot of different faces so we are familiar with loss, what goes with loss often is the grieving of those losses," he said. "I think as people, it's sort of very helpful to make ourselves available, to make ourselves available to somebody else to comfort them in time of need and of grieving ... We have to step outside of our own selves to do that."
Both Couture and Young offered readings and poems, with Young quoting Mother Teresa and Couture reading Alvin Fine's "Life Is A Journey" that ends with ...
Birth is a beginning and death a destination;
But life is a journey, a sacred pilgrimage,
Made stage by stage ... To life everlasting.
Young said there is grief from loss but people need to call on their strengths, whether spiritual or not, that gives them the ability to move forward.
The bush was planted and watered by Frank Segala and Pearl Mullett, who has spent years beautifying the Senior Center with perennial plantings. Couture passed out and collected the ribboned cards that had a stanza by Mary Oliver on one side: "Someone I loved once gave me / a box full of darkness / It took me years to understand / that this, too, was a gift."
Roseanne Marsh said she put down the names of her parents, Angelo "Kippy" and Anne Gentile.
"My father was my best friend, my mother, too, but when I lost him, I lost my best friend," she said. "He's been gone since '82, and my mom has been gone since 2006. It's been a long time.
"But this was so nice what they did. Now every time I look at that bush I'll know that they were remembered in it."
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