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Wedding Bells in the Courtyard

Wedding Bells in the Courtyard: Patient Joins Granddaughter’s Wedding From Her Room

Thanks to the caring staff of Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, patient Joanne Goebel witnessed her granddaughter’s wedding outside of her window at a local long-term care facility. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns about her grandmother’s health, Goebel’s granddaughter, Emily Kennedy, and her now-husband, Seth Benfer, canceled their wedding, which had been scheduled for August 2020. 

“When my grandmother got sick in late October 2019, it really put a damper on my plans to get married in August 2020,” Kennedy said. “The stress it put on my family made planning a wedding almost impossible.” 

When her grandmother’s health improved, and she was able to talk again, Emily started talking to her every week about her wedding.  

“When she was originally in hospice in November 2019, I had the idea to be married in her hospice room. As she was able to talk again, we talked every week about the wedding,” Kennedy said. “Fast forward to when COVID-19 shut everything down, I didn’t know if I’d ever see my grandma again.” 

Then, in July 2020, Kennedy was in a car accident. “My luck and that situation really put into perspective how precious life is,” Kennedy said. “On top of that, a few weeks later, my husband’s grandfather died, and I was like ‘I’ve got to do this now.’”  

Kennedy called her husband and her mom, and the family got to work to plan a wedding in just two weeks.  

Ashley Waulk, BSN, RN, care manager at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, was instrumental in helping facilitate the arrangements for the wedding, which was held in the courtyard of the long-term care facility. She and other staff helped Goebel get set up in a room so she could see and hear her granddaughter’s wedding through the window. 

“It was amazing to me to see how this big event materialized that had been talked about as if it was a far-off dream,” Waulk said. “The joy and happy tears from Joanne made my day. I felt so touched that Emily was so selfless to have her wedding in the courtyard of a long-term care facility just so her grandma could be a part of it.” 

The care team from Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton helped Goebel into a nice outfit and did her hair and makeup. They helped Goebel stay comfortable so she could enjoy the celebration. 

“My favorite part was seeing my grandma’s face as I walked down the aisle with my dad. Then, when I saw my husband and looked out at my family, it was so much more beautiful than I’d ever imagined,” Kennedy said. “My parents set it up so nicely, and Grandma was so happy, which made every second of stress worth it.” 

Kennedy is very grateful for the staff at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton. “What they do for my grandma is above and beyond. It’s been hard not being able to help her, but right now I can’t. We have relied on the amazing care of hospice,” Kennedy said. “I couldn’t imagine a better group of people to care for my grandma.”  

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