People are deeply affected by grief when a loved one passes away. They may find it hard to find meaning in their life without their loved one there, adding to their sense of loss. Grief can be an isolating experience for many, as reactions to grief may be overwhelming and at times frightening. To help those dealing with grief find peace and take steps toward celebrating their loved one’s life, Faith Presbyterian Hospice (FPH) recently held its eighth Butterfly Release on April 24. The butterfly is a symbol of transformation, and their release represents a celebration of change, rebirth and renewal. The memorial ceremony took place on the grounds of Faith Presbyterian Hospice’s T. Boone Pickens Hospice and Palliative Care Center (12379 Merit Drive, Dallas TX 75143). This center will be Dallas’s first stand-alone hospice center. It is currently under construction and set to open later this year. The ceremony will be held outdoors, as nature offers a peaceful, calm background for this event.
“We all find comfort in knowing we are not alone in the way we think or feel, or in what we have experienced,” said Valerie Sanchez, director of bereavement and integrated therapies for Faith Presbyterian Hospice. “I have lost both my mother and father, so I can relate to others who are grieving. How we mourn and remember can be impactful in changing us at a deep personal and spiritual level. It is important to remember our loved ones, but to remember them in a meaningful way that is both therapeutic and healthy. This is where the Butterfly Release event comes in. This event is a way for families to find peace, comfort and eventually joy in their loved one’s life. The way that butterflies transform from stillness to freedom has been compared to the progression of the grieving process, shifting from intense grief to celebration of life and memories.”
The Butterfly Release event was started nearly a decade ago, when the Bereavement Department at Faith Presbyterian Hospice decided it needed to host a memorial for patients’ families and loved ones, giving them the opportunity to reunite with families they have helped over the years. Approximately 30 people attended the first event, and attendance grew significantly with each passing year. After the first event, people asked if they could bring someone they thought would benefit from attending. They were reaching out because they wanted others to feel a sense of support and community. Seeing the impact the event had on the families and loved ones of patients, the Bereavement Department decided to open it to the public so all who are grieving may attend. By doing this, Faith Presbyterian Hospice helps people cope with their grief, while remembering their loved ones with honor and a joyful heart.
“Each year I am both overwhelmed and comforted when I invite those in attendance to reach inside and remember their loved one and release the butterfly. I feel so much of my family’s presence during this event, even though they are gone,” said Sanchez. “Each release is different because of the people who come; what it feels like as a collective group and what it looks like when the butterflies are released into the sky. One lady comes every year and wears a big straw hat on which she pins a replica monarch butterfly representative of the one she releases, symbolizing each year of her transformation. One year, we had a lady call a week prior to the event and requested a last minute RSVP because her adult son had died the week before, and she was extremely grief stricken. At the end of the ceremony, she came over to hug me and said that this event came at a time when she needed it most, as she was feeling overwhelmed by her grief. These are the stories that let me know that what we are doing is making a huge impact on the emotional wellbeing of the surrounding community. In the presence of love and acceptance, a community of people empathizes with each other’s deep sorrow and supports one another in the hope of the joy that will come. We all hope that they improve over time and find themselves in a healthier place emotionally, spiritually and physically.”