A few times each year, we hold a memorial gathering at Golda Meir House. It’s a chance for both staff and tenants to remember tenants who have recently passed away. It’s a way to bring closure to our collective loss.
Laura Isenberg, Resident Services Administrator, is the facilitator of the gathering. She begins by reading a meditation called “We Remember Them”. Tissues and candy are handed out: one for tears, the other to symbolize sweet memories. She lights a candle and gives a brief remembrance of each of the tenants who have died, while passing around a photo. Then, participants are invited to share their special memories.
This past week, we held a memorial gathering to remember six tenants. It was a bit different from others we’ve held in the past. This was a unique group. Some had been loners. A few suffered from mental illness. Others were completely without family. As I listened to the memories being shared, it was evident how many sitting in the room had touched the lives of those we were remembering. I was sitting among the many tenants and staff, and in almost every situation, GMH had become their family. These tenants had brought out the best in the Golda community.
The gathering was enriched by Journey Song, a group of volunteers who visit the very ill to share their gift of song. One member, Claire Kastner is a public health nurse in Newton who had tended to one of the deceased tenants for many months. The bond they shared was one of mutual love and respect. As a final tribute, Claire and her group volunteered to sing to honor the memory of everyone we had lost.
Often we do not see or understand a person’s better nature in our everyday interaction. I was struck by how many in the room had made a positive contribution -- whether large or small -- to life at Golda Meir House. Sitting at the memorial gathering, I had a new understanding of the meaning of community.