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Tangible Support for Grieving Families

Regina McFarlin, Kirk McFarlin's wife, with our Houston VA palliative care team.
Regina McFarlin, Kirk McFarlin's wife, with our Houston VA palliative care team.

Marine Veteran Kirk McFarlin’s body was draped in an American flag.

Taps played. His family and Houston VA staff paused or saluted as he was wheeled off the hospice unit where he spent the last week of his life.

Then his family was presented with a special gift, created by registered nurse Veronica Gordon. Before McFarlin passed away, Gordon took imprints of his and his wife Regina’s index fingers.  Then she intertwined the fingerprints into a graphic and made it into a locket for his wife to keep and cherish.  

“I was so touched by the gift of the locket and by the caring and compassion of the staff at the Houston VA,” said Regina McFarlin.  “I will treasure the locket for many years to come.”   

Our Houston VA staff started giving out the legacy lockets on the palliative care unit this month. They gave the first locket to McFarlin and hope to expand to other areas of the hospital in the near future.   

Gordon said the heart on the locket represents love and spirit with individuality.   

“No two people have identical fingerprints,” she said.  “The locket is something unique and personal for the family to carry with them always.”

Gordon says she felt a special bond with McFarlin’s family while creating the locket.  

“Working with Mr. and Mrs. McFarlin to get their fingerprints for the locket made me feel closer to them and allowed me to get to know the family and offer them extra support at a time when they needed it the most,” she said.  “It was truly a joy for me to be able to give the Veteran’s family this special gift. The Veterans we care for stepped up and served our country by being in the military. It is our honor and privilege to step up for their families even after they are gone.” 

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