This post was written by Pamela Reese, RN, WCC, Emeritus registered nurse, Parkview Regional Medical Center.
The Nursing Honor Guard is a ceremony of remembrance, following the tradition of military and police honor guards during funerals. Healthcare and nursing organizations are now recognizing nurses in this manner as well. There are many variations of this service, but the purpose remains the same: To commemorate the life of service for a nurse who has passed away.
Nursing Honor Guards (NHG) feature nurses dressed in traditional white uniforms and caps, who then participate in funeral and/or burial services as requested by the family. Some nurses have made this request prior to their death.
The three main tributes NHG may perform are:
- The Nightingale Tribute – A passage which is read during the service by one of the nurses.
- Final Call to Duty – The nurse is called to report for duty and then "relieved of their earthly duties." The Nightingale lamp is lit and presented to family.
- Casket Honor Guard – One nurse stands silently at the foot of the casket during visitation. A white rose is placed on the casket signifying devotion to his/her profession.
Parkview Health began to provide this service more than five years ago. We have had the honor of joining nurses from other hospitals as well, to provide various services for nurses and their loved ones.
We usually have two to three NHG nurses attend each funeral. It is an honor to “stand guard” during the service, and our hope is that our presence is a comfort to the family.
If you would like to request the services of The Nursing Honor Guard or learn more about how you could participate, please call 260-373-6424.