Healing Hearts Rock Garden Ceremony Helps Children Cope with Loss

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Samantha’s voice was clear and strong as she placed her painted rock carefully among the others.

placing stone for her dadIt was for “daddy. He’s in heaven, and he died,” she told family and friends gathered Wednesday evening for the 10th annual Healing Hearts Memorial Rock Garden Ceremony at United Hospice of Rockland. The children’s garden is for program participants ages 4 to 18 who lost a loved one — parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, grandparent, cousin.

Healing Hearts rock gardenFor the past 12 years Healing Hearts has been assisting children and their families cope with loss via group and individual activities. Children may express themselves through art, play and music therapies; parents or guardians receive support and guidance to address their children’s needs.

“By the time of the event, children are in the program anywhere from six months to two years,” UHR Healing Hearts Coordinator Dr. Sharami Kerr explained. “Everybody gets the opportunity to paint a rock for their loved one, and then they get to place the rock or plant it.

Healing Hearts Wall Hanging QuiltCarefully sourced by Kerr from nature in upstate New York, the large rocks are cleaned and presented to children, who paint them. They have the option to speak about their loved ones if they choose.

“There’s an amazing quilt here,” Kerr said, pointing to where more than 100 connected memorial squares hung in front of the building. “Any child that’s been in the program can add to the quilt at the year.”

placing stone for his dadOne by one the children said their names and said who their rock is for, carefully placing it the garden — Sam placed a rock for his uncle, Hope placed a rock for her dad, Rachel place a rock for her dad, Grace placed a rock for her dad, Grant for his dad, Jack for his dad, Amanda for her dad.

“Ice cream, face painting, tattoos,” Kerr announced as a line formed at the ice cream truck. Entertainment by a magician and refreshments followed the ceremony.

For information about Healing Hearts contact Kerr at 845.634.4974 or email skerr@hospiceofrockland.org.


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