Tear Made of Glass a Memento for Hospice Families
Monica Nash couldn’t get Bob Rafferty out of her mind. He was more than just a patient in the hospice unit she managed at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery; he’d become a friend. She was close to his family and wanted to honor his recent death in some way.
Then she saw it: a glass tear that was on display at the Taylor Backes glass gallery in Boyertown. As soon as she saw it, Nash knew it was what she wanted: a memento to give to Bob Rafferty’s family, and to other families whose loved ones in hospice passed away.
“When a patient dies, the family walks away and doesn’t realize how we remember them,” said Nash, director of nursing and director of the hospice program at Einstein Montgomery. “I wanted them to know that Bob and each of them will forever be part of us. We’ll always remember them.”
For that, Victoria Rafferty is grateful.
Her husband died in January after more than 10 years of debilitating illness, which necessitated many hospital stays. Bob Rafferty became family to the Einstein hospital staff.
The staff was especially honored to care for him because his daughter, Shannon Rafferty-Czincila, is president of Friends of Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, and is married to Robert Czincila, DO, chief of the hospital’s emergency department.
“She and Bob had such a bond,” Victoria Rafferty said of Nash. “He was at the hospital so many times, and she was such a personable person, full of vim and vitality. He called her the Tasmanian Devil and Mother Theresa, because she was an angel.”
Nash arranged for home hospice after Bob Rafferty decided to stop his treatment. He was discharged and died at home the next day, his hospital bed positioned so he could see out of the patio door. Nash arrived after Bob’s death, with a gift for Victoria: the glass tear accompanied by a poem, as well as pendants with small glass tears for her and Shannon.
Victoria’s voice trembles with emotion as she recalls the gesture. “The glass tear, when the light shines through, reflects the love and deep closeness within our hearts,” she says. “It helps comfort all of us and has become something in our house which we will always cherish.”
Einstein Montgomery has 24 beds on the medical surgical unit, where hospice care is provided. When patients arrive, they’re greeted with a hospice comfort kit, developed in part by nurse Julianne Nelson as part of her Nursing Excellence credentialing project. The gifts were funded, in part, by a raffle run by The Friends of Einstein Montgomery in early spring.
The kit includes a lap blanket, a handmade shawl, a vase with artificial flowers, and a battery-powered candle and doily for the bedside table. A purple butterfly magnet is attached to the door frame of the room so staff and visiting families will be respectfully quiet.
And when the patient takes his last breath, the families now receive the glass tear. “The goal is to make the patient comfortable but also to comfort the families,” Nash said.
Nash saw the tear when she was visiting the glass studio to explore team-building exercises for the hospital’s nursing leadership, at the direction of Chief Nursing Officer AnnMarie Papa. She later returned to the gallery and worked in the furnace with glassblowers to design a tear with an Einstein flourish: it has a swirl of purple, the color of Einstein’s logo, running through it.
The tear commemorating Bob Rafferty sits on a shelf on an open curio cabinet in the family living room, next to the simple wooden box with a Celtic cross on it that contains his ashes.
“We miss his presence – his voice, his funny quotes and his little quirks – and we will continue to shed tears,” Victoria Rafferty said. “It hurts. It’s empty sometimes. However receiving and displaying the glass tear helps.”
The Friends of Einstein Montgomery are looking for members to join their efforts on behalf of patients and their families. Please contact Kimberly Gross at 215-456-6172 or firstname.lastname@example.org.