Memorial Service Held at North Oaks Hospice Helps 98 Families Cope with Loss

Ninety-eight former patients were remembered at the Annual North Oaks Hospice Memorial Service, held Aug. 19 in the E. Brent Dufreche Conference Center on the North Oaks Medical Center campus.

The Memorial Service is a component of the North Oaks Hospice Bereavement Program, which provides support to family members and caregivers for one year following each patient’s passing. It is a special time for families to come together through music, prayer, scripture, words of encouragement, remembrance, and fellowship. While the reading of the names of those lost, and the presentation of memorial gifts to their families continue to serve as the cornerstones of the service, a butterfly release was added this year. People around the world see butterflies as a symbol of endurance, change, hope, and life, according to North Oaks Hospice Manager Courtney Ridgedell.

Morris Felder, a native and resident of Ponchatoula, United States Army veteran, and retiree of Shell Oil Company, was one of the hospice patients remembered. His wife of 41 years, Maureen Felder, and his daughter, Lois Gordon of Hammond, were among nearly 100 guests at the service.

When asked to share her impressions of the memorial service, Felder noted, “It was relaxed, and so nice to remember each patient by name.”

Gordon added, “It was nice to be able to experience this with my father’s hospice team, visit with them, and thank them.”

At the age of 89, Morris Felder entered hospice on Oct. 6, 2016, with kidney failure.

“When hospice was first suggested, my dad was hesitant, and none of us knew what it would entail,” Gordon explained.

As Morris and his family soon found out, hospice would help him make the most of his final months.

Maureen, whom he met square dancing, shared that hospice enabled Morris to continue his active lifestyle for three months, until his passing Jan. 6, 2017 – just shy of his 90th birthday in February.

“Morris loved to garden and tend to his collection of hydrangeas and camellias,” Felder shared. “He also loved going to casinos, and hospice gave him the freedom to continue his favorite activities, on his terms. He loved life, and was always quick to remind the hospice staff to call before they came over, because he might not be home! We took our last casino trip together two days before his passing. We ate, and he played for three hours, and loved every bit of it.”

He passed away the following Friday morning, with Hospice Nurse Trenice Coleman, and Chaplain Ty Wells supporting him. and his family.  

“My father died a graceful death, with his entire family surrounding him — all of his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. We were all there, and he knew it,” said Gordon. “It was not easy to be there in that moment, but I never knew that it could be so peaceful. It was just beautiful.”

Felder describes her husband’s hospice care as intimate. “Hospice was a total blessing to my husband, and it was, and continues to be, a blessing for all of us who are a part of his legacy.”

Pictured at the memorial service are, (first row, from left), Hospice Program Assistant Lacey Norwood, Hospice Manager Courtney Ridgedell, Hospice Chaplain Ty Wells, Lois Gordon, Maureen Felder, Hospice Bereavement Counselor Sr. June Engelbrecht, (second row, from left) Hospice Certified Nursing Assistant Elaine Varnado, Hospice Social Worker II Jessica Wilkes, and Hospice Nurses Jane Frederick, Trenice Coleman and Patrice Pellittieri.

Hospice is a special kind of care--given in the home--that provides support in a sensitive manner for patients with life-limiting illnesses. The North Oaks team focuses on the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of the patient, and emphasizes the importance of the patient’s quality of life.

For more information, call North Oaks Hospice at (985) 230-7620.