Special Memories Lead to Hospice Wedding


CATEGORY: News and Community; Volunteers

Sometimes, dark clouds and painful experiences in our lives, such as losing a loved one, can also bring about something beautiful. That's exactly what happened on a sunny day in June at David Simpson Hospice House. Newlywed Tara Feliciano, her husband, Eugene, and the rest of her family will be forever connected to David Simpson Hospice House and the Vista Walk due to a series of personal experiences. And the connection began long before the wedding.

In their close-knit family, Tara and her two sisters, Maida and Gloria, had always shared a special bond. Sadly, Gloria was diagnosed with cancer at age 30, ultimately losing her life to it five years later. During the final stage of her illness, Gloria resided at David Simpson Hospice House. Gloria, Maida and the rest of the family made it their home away from home, visiting regularly and sharing special memories during this bittersweet time. Although anticipating her sister's impending death was difficult for Tara, she grew to cherish the special times and memories they shared. David Simpson Hospice House became a place to celebrate life. 

One of Gloria's biggest wishes in life was to bear children. The two sisters worked together to make this dream a reality. Tara donated her eggs and Maida served as the surrogate mother. The twin daughters were born in April 2005, and immensely enhanced Gloria's life. She was able to experience the joy of motherhood and embrace and care for her two daughters for 13 months before she died. The Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Bereavement Center helped to ease the transition for the entire family, and David Simpson Hospice House played an instrumental role in the family's bereavement and healing process. The family was able to spend Gloria's final week reliving memories they shared together as a family; watching videos, walking down to the lakefront, and sharing laughs in her room. The Bereavement Center continued to support Tara through her grief process over the next year. 

Tara's wish was to have the funeral donations go towards the purchase of a large engraved brick with Gloria's picture on it as a lasting memorial of her family's love. Tara organized a special brick dedication ceremony for family and friends at the Vista Walk at David Simpson Hospice House. Tara, the twins and the rest of the family made it a habit to keep the family connection alive by visiting the Vista Walk on a regular basis.

A Wedding at Hospice

Several years later, when Tara was planning her wedding with her fiancé, Eugene Ellis, she brought up the idea of having their wedding at David Simpson Hospice House. 

"What a good memory it would be for us to get married there," said Tara since her fiancé also has a special connection with Hospice– his mother was a resident. In the midst of planning and trying to determine a venue, Tara and Eugene chose Hospice as their location because it would be a beautiful way to memorialize their loved ones. "It seemed natural for us since our family developed such a habit of gathering there for special occasions," said Tara. 

 The bride's original plan was a simple ceremony on the Vista Walk. However, the rainy weather that morning forced a change in plans. The couple made few arrangements for special services, so much to their surprise, they were delighted to find a beautiful setting indoors complete with decorations, flowers, music, refreshments, and a photographer all arranged by Hospice of the Western Reserve's Life Enrichment team. 

The skies cleared and the sun came out just in time to move the ceremony to the preferred location, the Vista Walk, as if it was meant to be. The wedding was truly a family affair. Tara's entire immediate family walked her down the Vista Walk. After they said "I do," Tara and Eugene each placed a rose on Gloria's brick in memory of their loved ones. 

David Simpson Hospice House continues to be a special place for Tara and her family. A place where she goes to always feel close to her sister has now added the beautiful memory of her wedding day.

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Northern Ohio's Hospice of Choice

More than 1,000 Hospice of the Western Reserve employees and 3,000 volunteers live and work side-by-side in the same neighborhoods with our patients and families. We are privileged to have cared for more than 100,000 Northern Ohioans since our inception.