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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Dozens gather for annual Tree of Life ceremony

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Participants hang ornaments on the Tree of Life at Fitzgibbon Hospital. Each ornament honors an individual who's passed away.
(Sarah Reed/Democrat-News)
People began hanging ornaments on the tree, filling pockets of greenery with wooden stars, snowmen and candy canes that carried the names of loved ones.

During the Fitzgibbon Mary-Montgomery Hospice Tree of Life ceremony, participants held hands, prayed together and celebrated the lives of those they've lost. As chaplain Bob Stewart said, the annual ceremony is a time to remember and show honor to those loved ones. His feeling was echoed by Nurse Manager Roberta Griffitt.

"The branches of this Tree of Life give us a visible reminder of the bonds of grief we have, that we share," Griffitt said. "The tree also represents how our collective grief is told one story at a time, one family at a time, one branch at a time."

Nurse Manager Roberta Griffitt welcomes guests to the 21st annual Tree of Life ceremony at Fitzgibbon Hospital Tuesday, Dec. 4.
(Sarah Reed/Democrat-News)
And the ceremony followed that ideal as the ornaments were placed individually, allowing each name to be read in its own time. Loved ones and hospital staff gathered throughout the atrium at Fitzgibbon Hospital -- not only to place their ornaments on the tree, but also to support others who've come.

That supportive nature was acknowledged by speakers, such as chaplain Kathy Borgman.

"We do remember those who have died ... and we come today, too, to remember the giving of care that has happened from (people) in this room," Borgman said.

Kathy Borgman offers a prayer during the Fitzgibbon Mary-Montgomery Hospice Tree of Life ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 4, as chaplain Bob Stewart (left) looks on.
(Sarah Reed/Democrat-News)
Borgman offered a blessing of hands, the work of those hands and a prayer of remembrance.

Following her prayer, Stewart led a prayer of thanksgiving.

"We thank you (God) for the little things ... the words of encouragement ... the ideas for caring that you share with other caregivers, the hugs and the smiles and the warmth that they bring to every situation," Stewart said.

Guests hold hands with their neighbors during the Tree of Life ceremony at Fitzgibbon Hospital as chaplain Kathy Borgman offers a prayer of hands.
(Sarah Reed/Democrat-News)
This was the 21st annual Tree of Life ceremony at Fitzgibbon Hospital.

Contact Sarah Reed at

A second tree in Fitzgibbon Hospital's atrium was dedicated to three environmental services employees who died within this past year. Those employees were Connie Cadwell, Leroy Selle and Marta Najera.
(Sarah Reed/Democrat-News)

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