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Rochester project helps grieving students 'take off the mask and be real'

Man looking at white wall with hanging masks and photos.
"The "Grief Unmasked" exhibit at Rochester Art Center features handmade masks from local students who have experienced loss.
John Kaul

For those who have suffered loss, there can be a tendency to put on a happy face for family, friends and colleagues. Grief can be especially hard for children and teens, because they may not have peers who can relate. Heidi Smith sees this often in her work with middle and high schoolers.

Before the pandemic, Smith, who works for Seasons Hospice in Rochester, used to gather with students for grief groups. One of the activities they did together was work on craft masks. Decorated in bright colors and designs, the masks were meant to symbolize the “happy face” put on for others. MPR News host Cathy Wurzer talked with Heidi Smith about the masks, which are on display through late August at the Rochester Art Center.

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