HOUGHTON — On Saturday, dozens gathered at the pavilion near the Houghton waterfront for the inaugural Butterfly Release and Remember event, hosted by UP Health System Homecare and Hospice.
UP Health Systems Homecare and Hospice social worker and event coordinator Julie Beck explained that the Butterfly Release and Remember is a fundraiser that aims to assist patients and families with essential and non-hospice related expenses that they would otherwise be unable to afford.
More than a fundraiser, the event doubled as a beautiful gathering.
“We also decided that it’s nice to have a gathering of people because grief hits hard when someone dies, and with hospice, there’s a lot of death,” she said. “So for our families to be able to come together to gather, even just to talk and to be in a group, is really helpful. And so this is sort of our celebration of life, as well as fundraising.”
UPPHH moved to Houghton last year, and this was their first public event since the move, Beck said.
“We want to get the word out about what we do,” said Beck. “Hospice helps not only the patient, but the family as well, and that’s another part of this. As bereavement coordinator, that’s part of my job; to reach out to families and let them know we’re here, and this is a great way we can do that.”
Hospice care can offer support for up to 13 months after a loss.
Continued hospice care after the loss of a loved one can include “phone calls, newsletter mailings, they call into the group support groups. So there’s a lot of different resources that we can offer to a hospice patient families, for a whole year afterwards. That first year is always the hardest part; the first holidays and anniversaries.”
“This is an event where we can bring people together, and we don’t know what people’s losses are because it’s a varied group of people in the community, so but everybody comes today and we know that they obviously had a loss because they purchased a butterfly in memory or in honor of someone, and we want to share together what a community can bring for healing and moving forward,” Beck said.
The decision to release butterflies has deep symbolism for Beck.
“The area has been very intensive with gardens and bees and butterflies lately, and we wanted to be a part of that, knowing we’re helping,” she said. “The earth needs butterflies and beautiful things, and butterflies represent some really nice concepts. A butterfly is born in a cocoon and then it’s hatched, it’s released. Eventually it dies, then the cycle is repeated. And that’s what life is really about. We want to honor that with hope and beauty, and by helping the world go on by releasing butterflies.”
With 300 butterflies sold and dozens attending, Beck considered the fundraiser and gathering a success, and hopes to make this an annual event.
“We just want you to know that this is to be a safe, soothing environment so you don’t have to feel the pressure, and yet you can take time today to remember the person you dedicated your butterfly to,” Beck said.
Along with the butterfly dedicated to a loved one, each participant received a little booklet, the title reading, “Whisper I love you to a butterfly and it will fly to heaven to deliver your message.” Inside, it reads “With the release of these butterflies, may you be surrounded by the peacefulness of knowing your loved ones are always with you.” The remaining pages are the names of those who passed on, and had butterflies dedicated to them.