In many cultures, the butterfly holds incredible symbolism. From being a symbol of the soul in early Christianity to China where it was a symbol of joy, to Native Americans, where it’s a symbol of change, joy, and color.
“Being in health care for 40 years, the memories and legacies of loved ones are always important, and all milestones deserve to be celebrated,” said Barb Klick, Sholom’s CEO. It’s a powerful way of keeping alive in a positive spirit. It’s a moving way of being with kindred spirits.”
Over the years, the event has become much larger than bereavement or recognizing yahrzeit.
“It’s not just about hospice; it has become a different kind of commemorative event,” said Jamie Maddeaux, vice president of sales and marketing at Sholom. “It’s up to the person to commemorate what they feel. We’ve had folks without anyone in hospice come.”
Klick, who attended last year for the first time shortly after becoming the CEO at Sholom, said that people have a tendency to segregate how we talk to kids about death and dying. But this event is designed to be intergenerational.
“Butterflies represent the circle of life, and this event brings everyone together,” she said. “Coming to see a butterfly released is something you can take your kids and grandkids to. Everyone finds some joy in it and can participate.”
Maddeaux said that past years have left her with some powerful memories.
“One of the cool things that we saw happen was where a butterfly stayed with someone a long time,” she said. “It was a symbol that their loved one was still with them in their heart.
“On the otherwise, there was a girl who was 3 or 4-years-old squealing with delight at the butterflies being released.”
Along with the healing power that nature has for people, Klick said that a community is very quickly formed amongst the people who attend.
“We’re all healing in some way,” she said. “To see people in the same stages you are, it provides an instant support group. People are letting butterflies go with tears in their eye. For that 30 minutes in time, you’re connected.”
The 9th annual Butterfly Release is at the Ackerberg Family Sholom West Campus in St. Louis Park (3620 Phillips Parkway). You can request a butterfly to release by July 28. For more information, check out the event’s website.