Paper Flowers Memorial

by Danielle Klein, ISR Staff

“Grief is not a disorder, a disease, or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical, and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.” – Dr. Earl A. Grollman

The case managers at Island Senior Resources often walk alongside a senior from our community on the path toward the end of their life. These case managers try to help navigate the sometimes-troubled waters between life and death. This is a very emotional journey for all to travel together. Geriatric case managers are responsible for developing short- and long-term care plans for older patients. They often facilitate discussions with families and patients about end-of-life care. These individuals work to navigate emotional and logistical burdens for the client and family.

Our case managers also help schedule volunteer medical transportation, help provide nutritious meals, find medical equipment from our medical lending library, and offer support groups for their loved ones. But most of all, they give our Island County seniors a hand to hold and a compassionate ear to listen. They listen to the stories of their lives, happy and sad, without judgment.

At the ISR office in Oak Harbor, the case managers have started a tradition to memorialize their clients, who are also their friends. They have created a board for beautiful paper flowers in shapes, colors, textures, and materials (think glitter or sparkles) that remind them of their clients.    

For each client who has passed away this year, there is a flower made in honor of their life. At the end of each year, the case managers will remove the memorial flowers and say goodbye, possibly creating a ritual of burning the paper flowers to ashes and releasing the ashes into the wind or onto a body of water.

ISR Case Manager Director Celeste Fikejs started this idea with only a design in her head and had not made flowers like this before. She did some online research and then brought in different materials for her team to create memorial flowers.

Creative memorials can be a constructive way to handle grief. There are many creative options for honoring a loved one’s life. You may find comfort and meaning in unexpected ways when trying something different. Like our case managers in Oak Harbor, you might discover drawing upon the arts as a resource for thoughtful and healing memorialization is helpful.