Chaplain Jim Dodds with the Christmas tree

On Dec. 18, 2017, Life Care Center of Port St. Lucie, Florida, offered a special remembrance ceremony.


The Tree of Life ceremony was open to family members of residents who had passed away, as well as associates who had lost loved ones. Each family received a Christmas ornament to write their loved one’s name on, and each write a short memory to share at the gathering.


Chaplain Jim Dodds from Treasure Coast Health hospice, and Susan Paules, director of nursing, read the names while families hung their ornaments on the Christmas tree. Some families also hung memorial cards with pictures on the tree.


Approximately 40 people participated.


“The families were great,” said Helene Weig, staff development coordinator. “They were so happy we remembered them and loved their family members like our own. One family member said it meant the world to them for us to do this knowing it was the first Christmas without their loved one.”


Not only was the ceremony a chance to honor their loved ones, but it also gave family members a chance to see friends they had made at the facility.


“Many people who lost loved ones came to our facility regularly and got to know the other residents and their families,” said Weig. “This gave them the opportunity to see each other and share memories. For some, it was closure.”


Life Care Center of Port St. Lucie plans to make the Tree of Life ceremony an annual event.