The Quilt

September 10, 2017

When someone dies at a nursing home or hospital, the process of removing that person into our care can have a certain degrees of awkwardness depending on the time of the day. At night, there are no visitors and the nursing staff usually accompany us, though some places just point us in the direction. During the day, because of nursing home visitors, sometimes the staff go into “hide the corpse mode”. And, “hide the corpse” becomes “hide the funeral director.” We are snuck through the halls and rooms like ninjas, the intention being that no one sees that someone at a nursing home has actually died.

I understand the tension that the nursing staff has. They want to keep death private and out of sight perhaps for fear it will be disheartening to the nursing home occupants and their visitors. Nurses have incredibly complex jobs with taking care of mind and body. If there are angels on earth, they’re likely to be in the nursing profession. But I’ve always thought there must be a better way to deal with death other than the “hiding” method.

One of the nursing homes that we frequent does the exact opposite. Instead of trying to hide the fact that someone died, they honour it. They place what they call “the quilt” over the deceased. When the deceased person has been placed on the stretcher, the nursing staff form a line along the walls of the hallway in what could be called a “walk of honour.” As we leave the nursing home and walk through the corridor, we are flanked by nursing staff. It is beautiful and sometimes very moving.

We are always wanting to improve the way we work.

Last week we took delivery of our very own quilt. A beautiful quilt made be Antoinette Burke from Camperdown. We have always sought to make the process of bringing a deceased person into our care a dignified one. This hand crafted gift from Antoinette has made it better, whether we’re seen or not.