On the evening of Oct. 4, the families of 26 patients who passed away in the MICU returned to the hospital for a moving remembrance service in honor of their loved ones. The service, now in its ninth year, is an important opportunity for family members and caregivers to reconnect, remember the patients who have passed away during the last year and feel a sense of closure.
“When you care for a patient for many hours or days, but aren’t working when they pass away, you usually don’t see the family again,” said Jessica Thompson, BSN, RN, of the MICU. “You don’t get to tell them you’re sorry or cry with them or say any of the things you would have if you’d been with them at that moment.”
Thompson, who has worked in the MICU since graduating from nursing school 14 years ago, organized this year’s service with assistance from several colleagues and the support of leadership. A small wording change on the invitations she sent to families welcoming them to say a few words during the event made it especially meaningful. For the first time, nearly every family spoke about their loved one during the service.
“Their words were both heartbreaking and inspirational,” said Tony Massaro, MD, director of the MICU. “They were reminders about the importance of the care provided daily on 3B and 3C.”
Massaro said it was one of the most moving services he has attended. “As always, it was humbling to see the profound impact of the MICU stay for the families with loved ones who passed away.”
Families expressed their gratitude to their nurses, physicians, social worker and other members of the care team. They also spoke about their loved ones’ lives before they were hospitalized, providing pictures of special moments and milestones for a slideshow.
Andrew Harte, BSN, RN, of the MICU, spoke about the importance of the service for both families and staff in reflecting on the lives of these patients. “In the years of holding the service, what has stood out to us the most is the remarkable resilience of the human spirit—the ability of individuals like all of you to move forward in your own lives while carrying these memories and your loved ones in your heart,” he said.
Harte encouraged the families to feel the sense of community in the room and talk with each other during the reception.
“It was like a mini support group for the families as they connected and comforted each other,” Thompson said.
Many staff participated in the service, including nurses, physicians, Spiritual Care Services staff, Social Work and others to make this event meaningful for everyone who attended.