Supporting grief and healing: Memorial service for palliative care and nephrology services in Central Zone

Patty Bowie holding a photo of her mother, Helen, who died while receiving palliative care.
Patty Bowie holding a photo of her mother, Helen, who died while receiving palliative care.

Opportunities to come together and remember those who have died can be supportive and healing in the grief journey. In Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone, both the palliative care and the nephrology services have long held memorial services for friends and family, but the events have been on hold since the beginning of the COVID pandemic.

On September 18, 2023, palliative care and nephrology will host a memorial service together at a larger venue to accommodate all who may wish to attend.

The event will take place at Halifax Central Library’s Paul O’Regan Hall from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The library is located at 5440 Spring Garden Rd in Halifax.

Family and friends of those who were served by the palliative care or nephrology service are welcome to attend the memorial, which will include music, words of support and encouragement and an opportunity to grieve and remember publicly and collectively.

Family members are asked to bring a photo of their loved one to be displayed during the event if they wish to share one. Photos will be returned following the service.

“Memorial services provide an opportunity for family, friends and staff to come together and remember those who we have cared for,” said Jocelyne Tranquilla, a bereavement coordinator with the Integrated Palliative Care Service, Central Zone. “It is an opportunity to collectively support grief in our community.”

Patty Bowie attended a previous memorial service to honour her mother, Helen, who died while receiving palliative care. Patty describes her mother as a true lady and a real character, who felt very comfortable with her care nurse who visited Helen at home.  The memorial was not only an opportunity to grieve, but to also express deep gratitude to Nova Scotia Health staff.

“Attending the memorial brought home to me that my gratitude was shared by all the families who filled the room that night,” said Bowie. “Family after family expressed thankfulness. It was enlivening to see so many folks show appreciation and return kindness for palliative care. It was important to support the team.”

Sandra Kidston attended a nephrology memorial service in the past and says it provided her with a sense of peace. “My purpose in participating was to say goodbye, but also to thank the staff and doctors who made a long renal road as smooth as possible for my brother, Gary,” said Kidston.

Staff of both services are also invited to attend in acknowledgement that grief affects everyone.

Monica Flinn has worked as a palliative care nurse in the community for over 20 years and has attended many memorial services.

“Again and again I have seen how valuable these services are for families and staff to remember those who have died,” said Flinn. “It’s a time to reconnect and reflect on the time we provided care together to make those last months of life the best they could be.”

Family members, friends and staff are asked to register for the service in advance by calling Krista at 902-220-4398 or emailing