Upcoming memorial butterfly release a chance to share in grief

BARRY’S BAY – When Randy Burchat attended his first memorial butterfly release last year, he found the experience overwhelming, but in a positive way. “There is something about shared grief that is good for you,” he said. “It feels right.” Burchat lost his mother on July 26, 2016. She has been a patient at St. Francis for more than five years before she passed. He was not going to attend the memorial butterfly release, but with the help of registered nurse Karen Wagner, he mustered up the courage to go. “I was a little bit sceptical really, I didn’t want to go through my grief with a whole bunch of strangers,” he said. After listening to retired grief and bereavement specialist Dawn Cruchet speak at the event, and releasing his very own butterfly, Burchat felt comforted. “The thing that stuck out to me was the countdown, and you were holding on to this little box, not really sure what was going on,” Burchat recalled. “But then, at the count of one, this whole crowd was quiet.” Looking up at the 250 or so butterflies that were fluttering above was an inspiring moment for Burchat. “It’s over whelming,” he said. “Something so simple, it’s like wow, it’s incredible.” St. Francis Valley Healthcare Foundation is gearing up for the fourth annual memorial butterfly release on July 29 at 1 p.m. at Water Tower Park in Barry’s Bay. Anyone who wishes to release a butterfly must reserve one by July 6. To help get the word out, students at St. John Bosco Catholic School designed 3D butterfly creations that are now hung at the hospital. Earlier in the month, Cruchet, who is also a Madawaska Valley Hospice Palliative Care volunteer, visited the Grade 4/5 class. She spoke to the children about the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly and how that transformation can be used as a metaphor relating to the life and death process. Pick up a copy of the May 23, 2018 paper to read the full story.