The Men’s Shed in Raphoe, Co Donegal, responded to our invitation to create a space to take grief and loss with a response that was simple yet powerful. They created a Memory Tree as a fixed point within their workshop to share personal memories and messages as tributes to loved ones who have died.
Inspiration came from the Shed wanting to acknowledge a universal truth, that was driven home during the pandemic in all its guises:
Sometimes you don’t know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.
We all suffer losses and grief. Personal and public. Big and small. Ones we have learnt to live with. And ones that unexpectantly took our breaths away. It could be the loss of a loved one. The loss of time spent with loved ones, as with Covid. It could be about a person, place, a pet, or a moment in time.
Raphoe Men’s Shed extended an invitation to everyone in the community to come to the Shed and hang their own label on the Memory Tree. Rebecca McLaughlin, Health and Wellbeing Manager at Irish Men’s Sheds said:
“The physical and practical tribute of decorating this Memory Tree can help people make sense of their loss by translating it into something tangible and act as a focus point for starting conversations around things that may be difficult to express in relation to loss.”
Dominic Campbell, our Arts and Creative Engagement Lead, said:
“Although not a real tree, inspiration also came from understanding people who suffer a bereavement, and connect with nature in some shape or form, often describe it as a very cathartic and healing experience.”
As these beautifully touching images testify, Raphoe’s Memory Tree is a simple yet powerful space for people to take grief to, and one that could easily be replicated that can help solidify sorrow into something of substance that is easier to confront and talk about. And talking, as we all know, can be the most cathartic and healing experience there is.
Photos: Martin Fleming