To hear of a Dignity Walk – the process where team members and residents of a Village honour the life of a resident who has passed away by lovingly ushering them through the front doors with quiet dignity – is a lovely notion.
To witness it firsthand is another realm of touching grace entirely.
In the Village at University Gates on a sunny August morning, I walked onto Main Street and immediately noticed a host of team members and residents standing in silence, awaiting the arrival of a resident whose faith had carried him peacefully into the next life.
Upon the gurney, this gentleman was covered in a dignity quilt, lovingly made for the purpose of this and all other ceremonies past and future that are a natural cycle of Village life.
His family stood alongside as he was somberly carried to Main Street; sons, daughters and grandchildren, it’s safe to assume, hugged their Village friends and many a tear fell upon the lapels of the group. Team members offered prayers and poems and spoke of the kindness this gentleman held in his heart, and through words shaking with emotion, they thanked the family for the privilege of caring for their loved one. The opportunity they had to know him in the final phase of a life lived well was a gift they had received, they said, and it became clear that working in this Village is so much more than a job.
Perhaps the word dignity is not enough to convey the feeling one gets while watching these people who met as strangers but parted as true family comfort each other. Gratitude passed between them, benevolence and generosity of spirit marked the moment, and though I knew nothing of the person who left the Village for the last time that morning, my eyes welled with emotion.
To see such connection is a beautiful gift, and the dignity walk never ceases to remind us of the value in all the moments that pass within the walls of all Schlegel Villages, joyous and somber alike.