How does your long term care facility recognize the passing of its residents? In the depths of winter, as the obituary notices get longer, it’s worth seeing the inevitable passages from the point of view of the elderly. In some facilities a bouquet of flowers or a name on the announcement board recognizes the passing of a resident while their room is quickly cleaned out and the new resident moved in. The author of a recent article in the New York Times suggests that residents who don’t have an adequate chance to pay respects and remember the presence of the deceased in the community feel sad not only for those who have passed but at the thought that their own presence in the community will ultimately be seen similarly … as something to be swept under a rug and not discussed.
Facilities that take the time to organize monthly gatherings at which the deceased are remembered provide much needed comfort for residents. The deceased are named, spoken of and remembered by residents and staff who may all have personal memories to share. Family members who choose to attend are often comforted by the stories that demonstrate the caring their loved one received in the retirement home. The gathering serves the purpose of remembering those who were once sharing their lives with the community but at the same time shows the living that they will, indeed, be remembered.