September 7, 2023 – (East Texas) – At a recent memorial service, a group of nurses dressed in a traditional nurse’s uniform – white scrubs, white shoes, white cap, and blue cape – approached the casket.
A burning candle led them down the aisle where they delivered a card to the family, extinguished the candle, read a tribute and placed a rose on the casket. The ringing of a triangle followed the saying of the deceased name three times.
They are nurses from the CHRISTUS Northeast Texas Nurse Honor Guard, paying their respects to their fellow nurse in a short but powerful tribute.
“We liken the service to that of a military tribute, where we officially release the nurse from their nursing duties,” said Anitha Sanderson, chief nursing officer at CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital – Sulphur Springs.
Sanderson is one of the founding members of the new Northeast Texas Nurse Honor Guard, created in February. Their mission: To honor nursing colleagues who have died and to provide comfort to their families by reading the Nightingale tribute at their services.
The Nightingale tribute is named for Florence Nightingale, widely regarded as the founder of modern nursing, and includes the reading of a poem titled, ‘She Was There.’
“I got the idea from a sister hospital CHRISTUS St. Elizabeth in Beaumont and I immediately knew that I wanted to be a part and extend the opportunity here in Northeast Texas,” Sanderson said.
The Nurse Honor Guard is not limited to CHRISTUS Associates. Any active or retired registered nurse (RN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN) in the state of Texas is eligible to join.
Currently, there are 168 members in the Northeast Texas Nurse Honor Guard, with more than 30 nurses committed to participate in memorial services in the following counties: Hopkins, Delta, Wood, Rains, Franklin, Lamar, Cass, Fannin, Camp, Titus and Upshur.
The Nurse Honor Guard can be requested by the funeral home and/or families.
“Nursing is a calling, and we want to do what we can to recognize those who answered the call,” Sanderson said. “It means the world to us to be able to express to the families that, by being a nurse, their loved one made a difference.”
For those interested in the Northeast Texas Nurse Honor Guard, call 903.439.4049 or email [email protected]
Sarah Mills, Anitha Sanderson, Alyssa Flatt, Tanna Holland, Cassidy Cameron, and Kari Froneberger