72 Monarch Butterflies were released in memory of loved ones at Chesapeake Highlands Memorial Gardens on Sunday, September 20. Over 100 people came together to reflect how loved ones who have died continue to impact their lives today.The event was intended to celebrate the memory of loved ones as well as to create a setting for those gathered to give heart-centered attention to their own emotional and spiritual journey through grief.
Marcianna Kreamer, General Manager for Chesapeake Highland Memorial Gardens, stated in her welcoming comments as event host, “It is our hope, after three years, to see this become an annual event for Calvert County, free and open to the public.” In her words to the audience, Kreamer shared, “Since we have been a longtime community supporter of Calvert Hospice, the idea of us working together made perfect sense. Our heartfelt desire for you today is that when you release your butterfly, you also release pain and in place of it, gain hope.”
Brenda Laughhunn, Executive Director for Calvert Hospice, stated that Calvert Hospice was grateful to partner with community agencies like Marcianna Kreamer and Chesapeake Highlands Memorial Gardens. “We can vastly multiply our capacity for good when we join together like this, rather than by simply adding up our individual efforts.” Laughhunn went shared that Calvert Hospice’s “Bereavement Programs and the Burnett Calvert Hospice House are open to Calvert County residents and rely solely on the generosity of the Calvert community to keep these programs available because we do not receive direct financial reimbursement to cover those costs.” She stated that Calvert Hospice is dedicated to deliver the “best care possible when it is needed the most. When persons are granted the opportunity to focus on the quality of their life, rather than aggressive, curative treatment which would only deplete and interfere with those dwindling opportunities, they can tend to personal goals, final life messages, healing relationships and finding spiritual peace.”
Linzy Laughhunn, Community Outreach Specialist for Calvert Hospice, shared in a brief message of reflection, “Finding healing and hope through the grieving process is related to remembering and re-telling the stories of those loved ones who shaped our own story.” He went on to invite those gathered to “see the butterfly as a symbol of how lives change and are transformed and that even as we see the butterfly transition through each of its stages as egg, larvae, caterpillar, and the chrysalis, it is this final stage that is most striking and memorable.” He drew the parallel to how, “We often see and celebrate with our families in hospice care that a person’s experience of life and sense of worth continue to offer new possibilities right up to the last moment.” Laughhunn drew upon the wisdom of renowned hospice and palliative care physician, Dr Ira Byock, saying, “It’s really not that complicated. It boils down to 12 words that Dr Byock observed through his years with countless families facing serious illness and nearing the end of life. Those 12 words are ‘I love you’, ‘I thank you’, ‘I forgive you’, and ‘Please forgive me.’”
Laughhunn reminded the audience, “The challenging part is to stay current with these powerful messages in our relationships in the here-and-now, and not wait until the last weeks or even days of our life.” He concluded with the poem “We Remember Them.”
The Butterfly Release involved opportunities for persons to participate in several symbolic reflections using stones, rose petals, a reading of names, and a symbolic “Wall of Memory” story board. Dulcimer music was provided by Susan Hood, a Calvert Hospice nurse, and her husband Doug. The pinnacle of the experience was the individual release of 72 Monarch butterflies by family members and friends, evoking emotions from laughter to tears. Spontaneous stories were recalled and new memories inspired by their Monarch butterfly. A time for refreshment, sharing and gathering information about grief programs and services was provided by Calvert Hospice and Chesapeake Highlands Memorial Gardens.
Calvert Hospice is passionately dedicated to providing Hospice care for anyone experiencing a life-limiting illness. Bereavement services are also available for children, teens and adults who have lost loved ones. For more information about Calvert Hospice and our Bereavement Programs, events, and services, visit www.calverthospice.org, email email@example.com or call Melinda Ruppert, Bereavement Coordinator, at 410-535-0892.