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Helping residents and staff of senior housing remember friends and neighbors

Posted: March 11, 2013

Periodically at Golda Meir House there is a Memorial Gathering for tenants who have passed away.  This gathering helps both staff and tenants remember their friends and neighbors, and helps bring closure to our collective loss.

Laura Isenberg, Resident Services Administrator, is the facilitator of this gathering. She begins by reading “We Remember Them”, then passes out tissues and candy, one for tears, one symbolizing sweet memories. She lights a candle and gives a brief remembrance of the deceased person. A picture of the person is passed around, after which anyone who wants to share their memory speaks about it.

This month’s Memorial Gathering was a bit unusual because the group we were remembering were unique.  Some were loners, others suffered from mental illness, others had no family. They brought out the best in the Golda community who sheltered and cared for them. GMH, for some, became their family.

The gathering was enriched by a group of volunteers called Journey Song who sing at bedsides of the very ill and dying. Claire Kastner, a public health nurse in Newton, is a member of Journey Song and tended to one of our tenants.  The bond between Claire and the tenant became one of mutual love and respect, and Claire volunteered her group to sing for everyone’s memory.

Often we do not see or understand a person’s better nature in our everyday interaction.  The Memorial Gathering emphasized each person’s small, but positive, contribution to our Golda community, and in turn how this community, staff and tenants, was able to give back. 

Maxine Bookless, Executive Director of Golda Meir House, a JCHE community

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