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Sunflower Remembrance Day
13 March 2013


They queued quietly, and waited patiently.

When it was their turn, each stepped forward to light a single tea-light, in memory of a loved one who had passed on.

Slowly but surely, the candelabra at the front of HCA Hospice Care's auditorium glowed brighter and stronger, eventually lighting up not only the room but also the hearts of family members who had lost their loved ones.

Around 50 people attended 'Sunflower Remembrance Day', a special memorial service organised three times a year by HCA Hospice Care, held on Saturday, 17 November 2012.

Volunteers and staff, including home and day hospice nurses, doctors, medical social workers, counsellors and patient care assistants, were also present.

The event provides the hospice with the opportunity to help former caregivers come to terms with the loss of their loved ones within an uplifting environment.

'Sunflower Remembrance Day' also serves as a platform for nurses, doctors, medical social workers and patient care assistants from HCA Hospice Care to interact with and to assure families that the passing of their loved ones does not necessarily mark the end of the hospice's relationship with them.

"Given our extensive network with other agencies and community resources, we can continue to support families even after the passing of their loved ones," said Dr R. Akhileswaran, CEO and Medical Director of HCA Hospice Care. "We're just a phone call away."

Apart from the lighting of candles, the event also saw a heart-warming performance by a trio of volunteers who call themselves the "Sunflower Voices".

Together, Ms Wendy Lee, Ms Joey Wee and Ms Jeline Ang, sang two songs for the audience.

"We were brought together by our love for music. 'Sunflower Remembrance Day' is a special event where we are able to make use of our vocals to comfort caregivers and those who have lost their love ones," said Ms Ang.

"We hear of many touching and selfless stories, and understand the importance of cherishing our love ones at every moment," added Ms Ang.

Another emotionally charged segment was the caregiver sharing when Ms Lola Ng, Senior Medical Social Worker from HCA Hospice Care, narrated the experience of Ms Quek, a former caregiver to her mother, Mdm Lim.

Ms Quek's mother was diagnosed with colon cancer in early 2012. Doctors had then advised Mdm Lim against going for surgery given the high risk involved due to old age.

As Mdm Lim stayed home, the team of nurses and doctors from HCA Hospice Care would visit Mdm Lim and her family twice a week.

"My mother's strength and her unyielding spirit will always serve as a source of strength and inspiration to all in my family," shared Ms Ng, on behalf of Ms Quek.

Mdm Lim eventually passed on peacefully from her home in April 2012.

"Wherever my mother is right now, and if she can hear me, I just want to tell her that we love her so much and that she is dearly missed by all."

Another former caregiver, Mr Tan, described the event as a "brief but meaningful" one.

"It just reminds us, again, what a wonderful hospice has done for us, for the community, and for the public," he said. "You [at HCA Hospice Care] are all very caring, generous, and understanding. We are thankful and very touched," said Mr Tan.