COLORADO SPRINGS — In today's Your Healthy Family, we’re letting you know about a special community event happening this Saturday evening in downtown Colorado Springs at the Pioneers Museum. It’s an annual tradition that allows our community to come together and celebrate the lives of those who have passed away.
The Trees of Life event is hosted by Pikes Peak Hospice and Palliative Care this event is now in it’s 38th year.
Dawn Darvalics is the President of Pikes Peak Hospice and palliative care, and she explains, “It's a healing event. I think people leave this event feeling connected and supported and like they're not alone. And that's so important - as you go through the grieving process. Every experience of grief is very unique to the person who is experiencing that loss, because their relationship with the person they lost is very unique. Many times we feel like no one could possibly understand what we’re going through, and that may be true, and yet when we come together as a community at an event like this where there could be two hundred or three hundred people It really does surround everyone with a kindness and compassion that's palpable.”
Andy Petersen, Executive Director of the Pikes Peak Hospice Foundation. Andy says, “The event starts at 5pm and it’s an hour long celebration. We read the names of folks that have passed away, and as part of the celebration we light trees around Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum and up and down Tejon as well. Those lights stay on through Christmas so it's a great opportunity for remembering those that have passed.“
Dawn says there’s one tree that stands out from the rest and has special meaning. “There's a tree that we light in red, white, and blue lights to remember those who have served us in the military or any other type of public sector. So that's a very important tree.”
The event is free and open to the public, and both Dawn and Andy stress it’s not just those people who are connected to Pikes Peak Hospice and Palliative Care. Dawn says, “You don't have to sign up. You can just show up and if you want to contribute a name we will absolutely put that name into the basket and read your loved ones name out loud.”
Pikes Peak Hospice and Palliative Care is the only non-profit hospice and palliative care in El Paso and Teller counties, they don’t turn people away. This event is one way you can support the organization and it’s continuing mission.
Andy says, “This is one of our opportunities for people to actually support financially the foundation. The foundation supports the operation side, and we have ornaments that people can purchase at the event, or online. We encourage people to purchase those in honor of a lost loved one and hang them on their tree. This year they can also have the name of a loved one engraved on the ornament as well, so it's just an opportunity to support the work that our care teams provide families every day.”
Dawn explains there is a special symbolism behind the ornament. “It's about nature. Nature is a big theme in life and trees have deep roots. As we go through life and we have close relationships with people, those relationships are mainly deeply rooted within us and certainly within that relationship that has now evolved and changed because the person we lost who is no longer here in the physical form.”
Dawn also says there is a reason this annual community event is held at the beginning of the holidays.
“It’s a hard time feeling the loss. It could be someone's first Thanksgiving meal without that person at the head of the table. That's something that is really hard for a family to deal with. It could be the first New Year that they're ringing in without a spouse, a child, or a sibling. When we surround those people who have lost someone with kindness, love and compassion, which is what we do here at Pikes Peak Hospice and Palliative Care everyday, and also at this Trees of life event, it really does make a difference. This is the 38th year people have come out year. After year after year, and it's important to note that it's not only for people that have been on Pikes Peak Hospice services. This event is open to the entire community. If you have experienced a loss, you are welcome and invited and we would love to see you there.
To learn more about the event, you can visit the Trees of Life webpage (HERE)
Pikes Peak Hospice and Palliative Care is a proud sponsor of Your Healthy Family