There are no pictures to accompany this outing because it was a private time for our elders. We don’t think of elders in our nursing home grieving for others, but they do. If they weren’t in a nursing home this Memorial Day weekend they would be planning a visit to the cemetery to decorate the tombstone of a spouse, child, parent, sibling or friend. So why do we put limitation on them when they are in a nursing home?
Today we took some elders to decorate the tombstones of their spouses, with flower arrangements they had made this week. It was such a rewarding experience that touched the hearts of the Quality of Life staff and Chaplain. Words cannot describe accurately the gratitude these elders had to have this moment of remembrance. One elder went to her husbands grave for the first time since he had passed away two years ago. It was the first time seeing the tombstone, the first time decorating and the first time talking with him. As we assisted her with putting the flowers in the ground she stated “These are for you Sweet Man!” We then gave her some time alone. As we returned to the grave she was admiring the engraving on the back of the tombstone on her husbands side it had baseball bat and glove because he loved baseball. We chuckled when we saw that on her side of the tombstone was a UofK shirt — because she LOVES the University of Kentucky Basketball team. Once back in the van she started to tell us the story of how she chased him down and she knew that he was the man she was going to marry. They were married 61 years.
Things we take for granted mean so much to elders. We shouldn’t feel like life ends when coming to a nursing home or that grieving for a loved one is different when you no longer live in your home.