Tribute – Kokomo – Towne Post Network
The Nursing Honor Guard commemorates deceased caregivers
Screenwriter / Julie Yates
The Nursing Honor Guard (NHG) serving North Central Indiana commemorates nurses at their funerals or memorial services. Families find comfort as representatives of the organization pay tribute to their loved one who followed a call to care for others. NHG groups are found throughout the country, with approximately 17 active groups located in Indiana.
“I first learned about NHG in 2014 when I got a call from Jill Jeffries, Community Outreach Coordinator for Ellers Mortuary,” says Peggy Faulkner, BSN, RN, Custody Coordinator. honor of the Nursing Service of North Central Indiana. “She asked if I might be interested in helping develop a nursing honor guard program in Howard County. Jill explained that NHG is a way of honoring a fallen comrade in our nursing profession. It was similar in some ways to a military honor guard. She had also spoken to my former boss, Mel Greene, who at the time was the NOC of Community Howard Regional Health.
At the time Faulkner received this initial call, she was unable to devote the time needed to start the organization in the Kokomo area. She had retired in 2012 to care for her parents, whose health was failing. Her father, a World War II veteran, had just been buried with full military honors. Ten months earlier, her mother, who had been a nurse for 40 years, had also died.
“I couldn’t help but think how much my mom would have loved the concept of the NHG,” she says. “Then, just three months later, one of our dear Community Howard nurses was involved in a very tragic car accident while driving to work. The following day, she died of her injuries. The Anderson NHG was called and they came to Tipton to pay tribute to Lora’s dedication to nursing. The nurses and I have felt the impact the nursing honor guard service has had on Lora’s family and friends, and on us.
In February 2015, Faulkner had organized the North Central chapter. Today, there are approximately 113 members, with 20 on the active contact list participating in funeral services. Other members are on the electronic contact list and are notified when a nurse dies and asked to pray for the family.
Typically, funeral home staff handle the arrangements between the family and the NHG, providing the family of a nurse with this final tribute to their loved one. NHG members bring a display table with a Nightingale lamp, white Bible, and nurse’s cap to visitation and service, and watch over the casket. During the funeral, they read the Nightingale Pledge, call a final roll call, present a Nightingale lamp to the family, and read the nurse’s prayer.
“We’ve been to over 150 services and each one is special,” Faulkner says. “One of them took place in a backyard and involved the release of balloons. At another, the family dog befriended me and stayed by my side.
The North Central Indiana NHG traveled to other locations in Indiana to launch the organization’s presence there. They went to Elkhart, Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Marion and Muncie. Out-of-state locations have also benefited from the chapter’s assistance.
Locally, NHG has partnered with the Community Howard Regional Health Foundation. The NHG meets the first Tuesday of every month at 2 p.m. at Cross America, Inc. in Kokomo. An orientation session for new members will be held at the September 6 meeting.
“Nursing Honor Guard tributes are a way to give back to a nurse’s family,” says Faulkner. “It is a vocation to be a nurse. When you have a nurse in the family, everyone is involved. Holidays are always impacted. When we receive a call, we have the privilege of praying for the family, offering them a candlestick lamp and honoring a deceased nurse.
Contributions to cover the cost of souvenirs donated to families, as well as maps and brochures, can be sent to NHG c/o Community Howard Regional Health Foundation, 3548 South Lafountain Street, Kokomo, Indiana 46902.
To contact the Nursing Honor Guard serving North Central Indiana, call 765-453-1634 and leave a message.