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A Beautiful Way to Honor Loved Ones
Submitted by: Hospice and Palliative Care of Westchester

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A Beautiful Way to Honor Loved Ones

There is something amazing about seeing colorful, delicate creatures fly into the wide open air that unites people of different ages and backgrounds.

On a sunny spring day in May of 2015, families, friends and community members joined Hospice and Palliative Care of Westchester at the Wainwright House in Rye, NY for two remembrance ceremonies, each concluding with the release of Monarch butterflies. Children and adults released a butterfly for each of their loved ones who have since died.

HPCW Executive Director Mary K. Spengler, MS and Wainwright House Executive Director Peggy Hill welcomed guests, and HPCW staff and volunteers offered readings relating to loss and bereavement. 


HPCW Bereavement Coordinator Bruce Page, MAT, MDiv, (Chappaqua, center) with HPCW staff
From left to right: Mary Pat Barden, HPCW Patient Care Coordinator (Stony Point); Briana Reaves, HPCW Volunteer (White Plains); Karen Dreher, LCSW-R, HPCW Bereavement Coordinator (New Rochelle). 

This annual event was originally designated for families who had a loved one that was cared for by HPCW, but was later opened up to the community.  Approximately 200 people participated in this event and released 260 butterflies.

HPCW describes these events as being very helpful for families. “People are looking for ways to come together to grieve their loss in a positive way and through a shared experience.” Hospice professionals understand that the way each individual handles grief is unique. With this event, they have seen a sense of community, a shared experience and a beautiful connection between the families and the butterfly. The act of the butterfly moving forward as it is released allows the family to begin moving forward as well.

Along with music practioners performing musical interludes, children and their families were invited to participate in butterfly crafts and walk the peaceful labyrinth on the grounds of the Wainwright House.

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