Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m., a sad, heartfelt, and heartening event will take place in an auditorium at Holy Name Medical Center. At a memorial service for those who passed away at Villa Marie Claire – the medical center’s hospice in Saddle River – the names of the departed will be read, prayers in their honor will be said, tears for their loss will be shed.
Villa Marie Claire is completing its first year of invaluable service to our community. Despite its affiliation, it is as interdenominational and welcoming of all faiths – and attendant ritual needs – as Holy Name Medical Center itself.
We hope, however, that time is taken during the memorial service not just to remember those who died at the Villa or under its care during the past year, but also to pay tribute to the people who gave that care – the nurses, the orderlies, the chaplains, the administrators. They are a unique group of people, exercising their oh-so-difficult tasks with great compassion and even love, not just for the patients in their care but for the families of those patients, as well.
Make no mistake about the nature of the work these people have chosen to do (and it is a choice). They get up each day with the full expectation that one or more of their charges may die that day. They go to work knowing that no one in their care will ever go home again; or, if the care is in-home, knowing that their patients will not live longer than days, weeks, or months; sometimes, only hours.
We all have an inborn desire to help the helpless; caregivers at hospices provide that help. While they cannot save people from death, they can help ease them into it.
It takes special people to do those tasks. Hospices employ such people. Villa Marie Claire surely does.
Those who died deserve to be remembered. Those who helped them die with dignity and in peace deserve to be remembered, as well, and they deserve our thanks.