The Nightingale Tribute honors any registered or licensed practical nurse for their commitment to their patients and dedication to nursing. The Nightingale Tribute may be presented by a friend or nurse colleague at a memorial gathering and during any part of the pre or post-funeral service that is appropriate to the nurse’s religious tradition. To ensure the inclusion of The Nightingale Tribute, it is important to coordinate its presentation with the family, funeral home, and place of worship.

Format for the Nightingale Tribute

The Nightingale Tribute begins with a short synopsis of the nurse’s career. A creative reading follows the synopsis. A white rose is placed with the nurse after the reading, with the following statement,

“(Name), we honor you this day and give you a white rose to symbolize our honor and appreciation for being our nursing colleague.”

This entire tribute takes only two minutes and can be placed anywhere within the service appropriate to the traditions and beliefs of the recipient’s faith.

How do I arrange for this tribute to be given at my loved one’s service?

Visit your funeral home director about this tribute. Contact a Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse friend or colleague (active or retired) of the deceased and ask him/her to present the tribute at the service. If he/she is willing, ask them to visit with you about your loved one’s service as a nurse.

Use the words included here as a creative reading to follow the career synopsis. Adapt the reading to fit the recipient.

Schedule the tribute within the service in collaboration with the family, funeral home, and place of worship as appropriate. Decide if you would like a white rose placed with your loved one in tribute and honor. If so, notify the nurse presenter and any other nurse friends to bring a white rose.

Annual Nightingale Tribute

ANA-Illinois and the Illinois Nurses Foundation (INF) partner to honor nurses who have passed away by including their names in a Nightingale Tribute during the INF Annual Holiday Gala & Fundraiser.

Donate to the Illinois Nurses Foundation in memory of a loved one. Upon making an ‘in Memory’ gift, the person or family indicated receives a personalized tribute card notifying them of your thoughtful gift without revealing the amount. Your loved one will also be included in the Annual Nightingale Tribute. Each gift may be tax-deductible, and you will receive an acknowledgment for your donation.

What is a Nurses Honor Guard?

A Nurses Honor Guard pays tribute to nurses at the time of their death by performing the Nightingale Tribute at the funeral or memorial service. This service is similar to a military tribute and officially releases the nurse from their nursing duties.

The Nurses Honor Guard dresses in the traditional white uniform, complete with a cap and cape. The ceremony is brief; it takes about 5 minutes and consists of reciting the Nightingale Tribute and laying of a white rose on the casket or next to the urn, symbolizing the nurse’s dedication to the profession. After the Nightingale Tribute is recited, a triangle is rung after a roll call for the nurse. The nurse’s name is called three times, and the triangle is rung after each call of the name. After the roll call, the words are spoken, and that the nurse is officially released from their nursing duties. A lit Nightingale lamp is carried up at the beginning of the ceremony and is then extinguished and presented to the family with personal condolences made.

It is not difficult or expensive to start a Nurses Honor Guard. The caps and lamps are available online, and the capes are handmade with a simple pattern. Once you take the idea to nurses in your area, you form a volunteer list that you can call on. The larger the group, the better, as not everyone would be available each time your services are needed. Retired nurses are also a valuable resource. Once you have a few meetings and get your caps and capes, you can make appointments with local funeral directors and let them know to offer this service to the family. It is helpful to provide them with a flyer to give to the family. Each nurse is responsible for purchasing their own white uniform and shoes.

Illinois Honor Guard Listing

Looking for a Nurse Honor Guard?  We are interested in creating a place for family and friends to find a Nurse Honor Guard in their area.

If you are interested in having your Nurse Honor Guard listed on this webpage, please contact Susan Y Swart at


Northeastern Illinois Nurse Honor Guard