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Annual butterfly release brings comfort to families

For a brief moment on the evening of June 12, family members watched and even felt the release of a small butterfly as they lingered on a hand, a finger, even an arm and nearby flowers before fluttering away.

The release of about 24 Painted Lady Butterflies was part of a memorial service held to honour the lives of little ones lost too soon. 

Families were invited to join the Erie Shores HealthCare Spiritual Care Committee (ESHCSCC) at the Baby Butterfly Garden at the Erie Memorial Gardens cemetery behind the mausoleum off Erie Street South.

Releasing a butterfly is symbolic of life’s delicate and fleeting nature.

Sylvia Swiatoschik, chaplain with the ESHCSCC, led the service, following a land acknowledgement.

“Today we gather to remember, honour and support the youngest lives lost at Erie Shores,” she said. “Many traditions recognize butterflies as symbols of hope, as it changes from an egg to a caterpillar, then through an almost magical metamorphosis to a butterfly that flies away — we do not know where — to continue the cycle of life.” 

Many religions were represented at the service which included prayers and readings of scripture to offer comfort, hope and strength in moving towards acceptance for those who have lost a child.

She said the individual packets of live butterflies came from Butterflies and Roses, a group dedicated to assisting native butterfly populations.

The butterfly release memorial service started in 2006, according to Kevin Black, Manager of Communications, Community Engagement and Public Affairs for Erie Shores HealthCare. He said the native butterflies are approved by ERCA.

The Spiritual Care Committee also offers spiritual guidance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to all patients, family, staff and volunteers, regardless of faith or ethnicity.

This week’s
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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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