Consolation spaces

Exploring the use and role of communal remembrance spaces in local neighbourhoods

Project description

The COVID-19 crisis evoked a wave of collective loss and grief, which stressed the importance of emotional and social support towards eachother. Life as we know it was disrupted and certain customs and rituals were no longer possible. This showed the need for an outlet for grief and a way to connect with others who experience pain and grief.  


A recent groundswell of movements and organisations is rising in Flanders, stimulating engagement with death, loss and connection. The organisation Ferm encourages civic engagement initiatives with their action PlantTroost, in order to provide public spaces for consolation and connection. Everyone can join in to find and give comfort together in distressing times. The spaces for consolation and connection are situated in green areas and are accessible to everyone. It is a place to come together with the neighbourhood and find solidarity, hope and strength.  


This research explores 1) the meaning-making and use of local communal remembrance or reflection spaces for people confronted with serious illness or loss in their immediate surroundings, 2) the role these spaces have in connecting people in the neighbourhood and 3) the impact of these spaces on their surrounding neighbourhoods.  


This research project is conducted in cooperation with Ferm and the Compassionate Communities Centre of Expertise of Vrije Universiteit Brussel (COCO). 



Consolation spaces, loss, connection, public space, compassionate communities, Serious illness, death, dying and loss 


Contact persons

Dr. Sylvia Hoens - 

Prof. Sarah Dury -