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The special holiday tree that's helping Winnipeggers deal with loss

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Though the holidays are a time of joy for Manitobans, for those who are grieving it can be a time of loneliness and loss.

To help people deal with this pain, Palliative Manitoba has an annual tradition called ‘The Memory Tree,’ where Manitobans can acknowledge those who have died.

“It’s such a community tradition over here and it’s just one way for people to come and be able to acknowledge their grief during the holiday season,” said Jennifer Gurke, executive director of Palliative Manitoba in an interview on Thursday.

“We know that so many people feel the need to hide their grief and keep it in. This is one way that they can acknowledge it and not have to worry about being judged.”

Through this initiative, people can hang a card on the tree, share special memories, and honour their loved ones.

The Memory Tree is set up at the St. Vital Centre in front of Hudson’s Bay. Those who can’t attend in person can send a message online or mail in a card. More instructions can be found online.

Gurke invites anyone to come down to the Memory Tree during November and December to watch it “grow with love.”

“I mean, it’s sad because there’s grief, there’s death and there’s loss associated with the tree, but when the tree fills up with all the cards and all the messages of ‘I miss you. I wish you were still here' – that’s love,” she said.

“We’re just really so pleased to be able to provide a service that allows people to express their grief in a safe way.”

Donations made to the Memory Tree will go to Palliative Manitoba’s services, including the telephone bereavement support program and the volunteer visiting service.

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