Due to the pandemic situation, we had not been able to run any events for our families for more than six months. The team felt great discomfort at not being able to be with families as a community and finally decided to run our StarPALS Remembrance Day virtually. At the same time, we were worried at how such a sensitive event might turn out, being held virtually. With much meticulous planning, we finally conducted the event over the weekend, on 25 July 2020.
Prior to the event day, we sent carepacks containing an art block, art material and a picture frame, to the families. Families were encouraged to trial the login process and the team busied themselves with getting the equipment to ensure a smooth telecast for our families.
Exactly a year ago, I had written about Life’s curveballs – about two children Joy* and Joyce*. Two months later, I wrote about the StarPALS family camp. The family of Joy and families of some of the children I met at the camp attended this Remembrance Day. 17 families joined us for this very poignant event.
Families were encouraged to login earlier and just like a big family, everyone was saying hellos to each other over the chat. To get started, our staff asked the families to draw what they felt represented their families, using the carepack that they had earlier received. Many depicted their beloved children as angels and stars. Families were then invited to write letters for future StarPALS families, to provide them with words of encouragement and support, in preparation for their impending bereavement. Already at this time, I could see many families dabbing their eyes with tissues.
Stella* then shared the story of her journey with her daughter Tracy*. Tracy was a feisty and wonderful girl, who despite the pain, endured till her last days, planning her own funeral, sharing her legacy and willing her favourite belongings to close family and friends.
The moment of remembrance came when all the photos and names of our beloved children were displayed for all to see. There was not a single dry eye, as I could see many parents using more tissues.
Our long time StarPALS volunteer then read a poem dedicated to all our children.
The most heartwarming and poignant part was the finale, when we shared a video painstakingly put together by a volunteer and friend, after filming for two days and editing for four days. It was a collage of all our children whose lives we were celebrating, combined with “Rainbow Connection” sung by our staff and some of our family members. Everyone was touched.
The chat in the online platform was abuzz with much love, appreciation and thanks. Every family was grateful for the event. It was a success.
Besides the 17 families, 25 of our staff were logged in. They included our doctors, nurses, social workers, non-clinical staff, medi-minders all in support of the StarPALS Remembrance Day event. Everyone did a wonderful job, in ensuring that everything went smoothly in this very important but sensitive and emotional event. Our job does not end yet. Every family that joined us for the Remembrance Day will be visited by our staff, to ensure that grief and bereavement support is provided.
We sincerely hope that our families will be gently comforted by an afternoon of sharing and warm support for each other. Thank you for the privilege to have cared for your wonderful children!
Keep up the good work team! You are all very much appreciated!
*not their real names