June 22, 2024
Nurses Honor Guard
The Nurses Honor Guard pays tribute to nurses at the time of their death by performing the Nightingale Tribute at the funeral or memorial service. This service is similar to a military tribute and officially releases the nurse from their nursing duties. 

The Nurses Honor Guard dresses in the traditional white uniform complete with cap and cape. The ceremony is brief; it takes about 5 minutes, and consists of reciting the Nightingale Tribute and laying of a white rose on the casket or next to the urn, symbolizing the nurse’s dedication to the profession. After the Nightingale Tribute is recited, a triangle is rung after a roll call for the nurse. The nurse’s name is called three times and the triangle is rung after each call of the name. After the roll call the words are spoken that the nurse is officially released from their nursing duties. A lit Nightingale lamp is carried up at the beginning of the ceremony and is then extinguished and presented to the family with personal condolences made. 

It is not difficult or expensive to start a Nurses Honor Guard. The caps and lamps are available online and the capes are hand made with a simple pattern. Once you take the idea to nurses in your area, you form a volunteer list that you can call on. The larger the group the better, as not everyone would be available each time your services is needed. Retired nurses are also a valuable resource. Once you have a few meetings and get your caps and capes, you can make appointments with local funeral directors and let them know to offer this service to the family. It is helpful to provide them with a flyer to give to the family. Each nurse is responsible to purchase their own white uniform and shoes. Capes orders can be made by email to jmury581@gmail.com

If anyone would like assistance starting a Nurses Honor Guard, they can contact Julie Murray at jmury581@gmail.com

The Nightingale Tribute
Nursing is a calling, a lifestyle, a way of living. Nurses here today honor Name and his/her life as a nurse.
Name is not remembered by his/her years as a nurse, but by the difference he/she made during those years by stepping into people’s lives…. by special moments:

Name Was There
When a calming, quiet presence was all that was needed,
Name- was there.( spoken in unison)
In the excitement and miracle of birth or in the mystery and loss of life,
Name- was there.(spoken in unison)
When a silent glance could uplift a patient, family member or friend, 
Name -was there. (spoken in unison)
At those times when the unexplainable needed to be explained, 
Name -was there. (spoken in unison)
When the situation demanded a swift foot and sharp mind,
Name -was there.(spoken in unison)
When a gentle touch, a firm push, or an encouraging word was needed, 
Name -was there.(spoken in unison)
In choosing the best one from a family’s “Thank You” box of chocolates,
Name - was there.(spoken in unison)
To witness humanity---its beauty, in good times and bad, without judgment,
Name - was there.(spoken in unison)
To embrace the woes of the world, willingly, and offer hope, 
Name - was there.(spoken in unison)
And now, that it is time to be at the Greater One’s side,
Name- IS there. (spoken in unison)

© Duane Jaeger, RN, MSN

Name, we honor you this day and give you a white rose to symbolize our honor and appreciation for being our colleague.

Name (ring triangle) Name (ring triangle) Name (ring triangle) We officially release you of your nursing duties.(extinguish lamp and give to family member with quiet condolences)