I recently had a patient pass away and I went to the home to deliver the bereavement packet and provide support to the wife. While there, we filled out the paperwork so she could get the flag for his services. This is usually something the funeral home does, but this family chose a body donation service so I was able to help them. Of course, because of our amazing office staff, I had the forms in the Military Honors Packet and was able to easily access what was needed. I made arrangements with the family to deliver the flag to them this Wednesday. Anyway, with the completed form, I went to Connie Tanaka at the Veteran’s service office as he was going to obtain the flag. Later that day I returned to pick up the flag and found that the flag is delivered in a plain cardboard box and needed to be folded. Connie says “do you want to help me fold it?” Of course, my first thought was that I didn’t know how to do this, that I may not be qualified, etc., but presenting it to the family in a cardboard box just was not going to do. While assisting with folding this flag I was reminded of all of the things I see on Facebook about people burning the flag, not honoring the flag, and most recently, not standing for the flag. What I experienced and felt was this reverence that was beyond what I have ever felt in my 24 years as a Social Worker. I felt a HUGE sense of responsibility. This flag is for someone who was willing to lay their life down for this country, for our freedom … this is a VERY significant deal! As I took this flag with me, and because I am not delivering it to the family until tomorrow, the weight of what I was carrying was heavy. I knew I needed to honor it, to take care of it, to make sure that nothing happened to it. I will continue to hold these thoughts until it is safely delivered to the family of this man who fought for my freedom.
In hospice, we get to have some experiences that shape us, change us, guide us, remind us, inspire us … and this is one of those for me. I appreciate the experiences I get to have and this one goes in the books as a great reminder of the importance of what we do.
Sharla P., LSW, GC-C
Medical Social Services
Fruitland Heart ‘n Home Hospice & Palliative Care