A Heartbeat to Hold: "It's that Little Jar of Life."

A metal heart pendant on a red ribbon, a cork, an empty class vial, a tag reading "my heart is with you, always," and a printed EKG heartbeat.
A keepsake featuring a printout of a patient's final EKG reading, given to the patient's loved ones.

A heartbeat is the ultimate symbol of life – and the nurses of South Shore Hospital’s Critical Care Unit (CCU) have created a tradition that turns a patient’s heartbeat into a cherished keepsake for their loved ones.

When a CCU patient passes away, the nurses print out the patient’s final heartbeat, as recorded by an EKG.

This small strip of paper is then placed into a glass jar with a label reading, “My heart is with you, always.”

“Whenever we see families leave, we come right out and give this to them,” said Michelle Peterson, RN. “100% of the time everybody is smiling, hugging, thanking. It brings everyone together.”

While the loss of a loved one is never easy, our nurses hope this keepsake provides a tangible reminder of life and love.

“It’s that little jar of life we can give to the families," said Peterson.

Watch the video below to learn more about this moving tradition.