“Our humble circle stood in the front yard of a Detroit nursing home to perform our final death ritual for Lelia. People riding by in cars on a busy street observed a lively group of ecstatic mourners looking upward, enthusiastically singing “Going to Shout All Over God’s Heaven.” Passionate voices resonated like rockets. We released our buoyant balls of bliss floating in a hurry to get somewhere. I imagined Lelia looking on, bobbing her head to the gospel beat. She grinned her toothless rainbow smile that colored our hearts with joy from the Other Side of Through when we all yelled, “Bye, Lelia! Have yourself a good time!”
© Frances Shani Parker
I have been present at several death rituals of hospice patients. As a hospice volunteer in a nursing home, I don’t often see many of my patients’ relatives and friends until the ritual is held. The closure that takes place is often viewed as a final expression of care for relatives and friends of the deceased. However, research by the Orvis School of Nursing at the University of Nevada shows that hospice workers also benefit from such rituals. Not only do the rituals provide closure and an outlet for their grief, they also decrease the risk of burnout and compassion fatigue that hospice workers can experience.
Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
“Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog”