For nursing home residents, death is ever-present. If you have ever visited a nursing home or have family in one, you may have noticed the way in which nursing homes and assisted living places will acknowledge a resident’s death—a small flower, a card, or some short announcement.
Death is a frequent visitor to these homes, and oftentimes the residents do not want to be reminded of the fate awaiting them. If nursing and assisted living homes held memorial services every time a resident died, the current residents would become overwhelmed and distressed. Not only would it be a large expense, it would be a constant reminder to the residents. A ceremony of loss like a memorial service is typically reserved for those who wish to attend in another location so as to not overwhelm and distress residents.
However, memorial services are not all bad. For some, they are a loving way to remember those they have grown close to, or those who they might want to remember. Some residents leave behind fond memories with those they lived alongside, and nursing home managers want to preserve that memory. While holding a memorial service for each resident upon their death might have more of an effect of mass hysteria than a calming service, many nursing and assisted living homes have started holding mass memorials.
These mass memorials seek to celebrate the life of residents who have passed without overwhelming current residents with feelings of dread. They instead focus on the happy memories of the deceased so that those they left behind can think of them with a smile. Remembering the lost is a key part of how we process and deal with death. Grief is a natural part of that cycle, and residents need to experience it to properly process the inevitability of death.
Additionally, these memorial services allow residents to experience peace. For many residents, the fear of being forgotten is a potent one. Many people who are not even old enough to be in a nursing home face this fear. So, for residents, realizing that they will not be forgotten and will instead be remembered after they pass is a comfort. It’s a simple gesture that can allow a resident to experience the last few years of their life in peace, instead of worry.
For those with family in nursing homes, participating in or holding services for those who have passed is a great idea. Not only will it show your family that you still care about them, but it’s a great way to interact with people they live alongside every day. Your family worries about you, and they want to know that you still care about what happens to them. Being a part of these memorial services does more than show you care, it’s a way to emotionally support your family members who live in nursing homes.