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Volunteer Tear Cloth Program Helps Grieving Family Celebrate Wedding

Through the expertise of its nurses and the kindness of its volunteers, Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton had the privilege of providing compassionate care to one of its patients, Jerry Edward Kincer. 

When Kincer entered hospice care at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, nurses Brenna Ullery and Cynthia Bryant were able to monitor his care to ensure comfort and peace around the clock until his passing. In Kincer’s final hours, one of the nurses used a special cloth to wipe away his tears and placed them in a bag that was shared with his great-granddaughter, Haley DePoy. This cloth is called a tear cloth. 

A few days, up to minutes before death, a tear may form in the eyes of a person who is passing away. This tear is significant in that the patient may not be able to talk, and this final tear is a way of saying goodbye, not the emotional crying that comes from both eyes.  

The tear is gently collected onto the white cloth and kept by the family after the patient has died. The family has the tear cloth as a memorial. It can be used for special occasions, such as religious ceremonies, weddings or graduations.  

Upon receiving the tear cloth from Kincer’s nurse, DePoy decided her upcoming wedding would be the perfect moment to have her great-grandfather with her on her special day. She used the cloth to wrap around her bouquet. “I wrapped the cloth around the bouquet that I walked down the aisle with the next day,” DePoy said. “It’s now framed in my living room next to my favorite photo of my great-grandfather and me.” 

Kincer was a U.S. Army veteran, who had settled in Dayton after serving the nation. His great-granddaughter remembers him well. “Anyone who knew him knew how much he loved animals, and of course, his wife, Marlene Kincer,” DePoy said. “He was the biggest ball of sunshine and would have been the sweetest person you’d ever met if you’d had the chance.” 

DePoy’s experience with Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton did not just end with her great-grandfather’s care. In fact, it had just started. After seeing firsthand how the nurses treat each patient with superior care and superior services, she was inspired to join the mission and now is a part of the staff at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton serving as a patient services coordinator.  

“I started working for Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton in October of 2021, just a few months after my great-grandfather’s passing. Our experience with Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton is what led me here,” DePoy said. “My family and I were in absolute awe with how well we were treated alongside my great-grandfather. The passion that lives in those nurses’ hearts is unmatched.” 

The tear cloth program was started by volunteers at Ohio’s Hospice of Miami County in the early 1990s. Over time, the program has become a part of patient care at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton. Last year, Ohio’s Hospice volunteers made more than 1,900 tear cloths. 

“The ability to have a moment in time of such significance through this tear cloth is something the families can cherish,” said Amy LeVan, director of volunteer services at Ohio’s Hospice. “This program is a testament to the fact that our organization goes above and beyond to make every moment — and tear  matter.” 

Ohio’s Hospice is thankful for both the nursing teams and volunteers that helped make this possible. To learn more about joining the mission of Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, please visit www.OhiosHospice.org/Careers/ for more information. To learn more about volunteer opportunities, please visit www.HospiceofDayton.org/Volunteers/ for more information. 

Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, an affiliate of Ohio’s Hospice, is a not-for-profit hospice provider. Since 1978, it has served patients and families in the Dayton region in their homes, extended care and assisted living facilities, and the Hospice House location in Dayton. Grief support services are available to the entire community through the Pathways of Hope Grief Counseling Center. Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton serves more than 1,000 patients and families daily, achieving national recognition for innovative services and outstanding care.

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