“We care for our hospice families from the time that the individual comes on service, all through an individual’s journey,” said Kim Plasket, director of communications for Visiting Nurses.
“After they pass away, we still care for the families, and one of the ways that we do that is through having a memorial service, so they have a chance to talk about their loved one in a safe, comfortable environment,” she added.
Guests can bring a photo and the nondenominational service will include live music followed by a reception.
“We try to have musical selections that are familiar and comfortable, so we’re not necessarily playing stuff out of the real old songbook, but you’ll hear interpretations of songs by people who are familiar to the current generation,” Plasket explained.
People also share stories with one another.
“It could be anything that a person is moved to talk about at that time, and we hear some really beautiful, heartfelt stories,” Plasket noted. “We hear very funny tales – all kinds of things – but it gives people an opportunity to talk and share about someone that they love.”
Plasket believes it’s important for the community and staff to come together at the service.
“We all need somebody to lean on once in a while, and for many, especially for those who may have a family member who was far away when they passed or passed during COVID and they didn’t really have an opportunity to formally and publicly acknowledge them, this is that opportunity,” she said.
“It’s really heartfelt.”
Though the service may stir emotions, Plasket believes it helps people heal.
“You can see that it’s made a difference to them and you see it in people’s faces,” she pointed out. “And you see that maybe a little bit of a weight has lifted, because they’ve had a chance to really summon those feelings.”
Visiting Nurses also offers programs for those who have lost a spouse, parent, sibling or child. It has a creative group for children to learn coping strategies and release their feelings through activities, according to Plasket.
“I think people keep a lot of things in when they don’t necessarily have a peer group to talk to,” she said. “Maybe they feel that their friends and family heard enough, and so here’s a group that is very empathetic. So that’s what they experience, is the opportunity to share and bond with people in a comfortable and safe environment.”