Tree of Life at RDH Hospice
At Royal Darwin Hospital’s hospice in April, a beautiful forest began to grow.
Seventy trees by seventy members of the palliative care community were drawn through a series of therapeutic workshops. The Tree of Life process used was derived from Narrative and Music Therapy, and was adapted to incorporate art making to allow participants to reflect on their strengths, identity and values. Drawn through a guided process, participants were prompted to create an image of their identity in the form of a tree.
The roots are the people in our lives when we were growing up.
The ground surrounded the roots as they grew.
The trunk represents our values.
The branches are our hopes and dreams.
The leaves are the people in our lives today.
The fruit are the fruits of our labors.
The flowers and seeds are the gifts we hand on to others.
In a process that empowers participants to reframe the story of their identity in ways that make us stronger, viewing these trees together as a forest is a powerful sight. We saw beauty in their difference and their connectedness, and strength and resilience in the support of the forest. While each narrative was undoubtedly unique, our need to feel held by our community is essential in times of grief and loss.
Facilitating this process and observing the growth, renewal and support of this forest was an absolute privilege. The workshops and exhibition were made possible thanks to the support of Arts NT, NT Government, Darwin Community Arts, RDH Hospice and my co-facilitators Dr Niamh O’Connor, Bronwyn Dann, Juliet Rankin and Mike Foley.
Registered Music Therapist
Hospice, Royal Darwin Hospital