One petal at a time, a New York artist is using the healing power of nature to help people grieve the loss of loved ones who died from COVID-19.
With the hope of giving people some kind of closure, Kristina Libby has laid more than 40 heart-shaped floral wreaths across New York City as part of her "Floral Heart Project." The artist says she saw that the coronavirus pandemic was not only deeply impacting the economy and people's daily lives, but it was also leaving people psychological wounds that do not heal without help.
"They just felt like no one saw them. No one saw their loss," Libby said, adding that she wanted to give people a place to tell their stories and share their grief, especially in a world where physical closeness isn't possible.
Libby says she sometimes hold a vigil for someone who has lost a family member to the virus.
"When I hosted a vigil last week in Jersey City, the woman who organized it went to her father's funeral on Zoom," she recalled. "I hosted a vigil with one woman and she lost her mom and her dad within one week."
With the flowers provided by 1-800-Flowers, the wreaths laid by Libby can offer those who haven't experienced deaths of someone a communal site to mourn all the other losses the pandemic has taken.
"Lost their job, maybe their home. All of those losses feel so powerful to that person," Libby said. "I see people kneel down and touch it. Have a moment of silence."
The floral wreaths have appeared in Times Square, Bryant Park, on the Brooklyn Bridge and other popular NYC spots. Libby is now working on placing the flowers in all 50 states to let people know they do not have to be silent in their pain.