Families who want to honour lost loved ones are being offered that opportunity at an event organized by Bonnie Bagnulo, executive director of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Community Palliative Care Service.
The pandemic has been a “horrendous time” for those who were unable to be with loved ones who were ill and dying, some in hospital, when visitors were limited, she says. It was also difficult for families who couldn’t have their losses recognized, who couldn’t have all their family and friends included in the ceremonies they would like to have held.
Loved ones who died during the COVID years deserve to be remembered, says Bagnulo, and their families deserve to be comforted, and have their grief witnessed.
She has organized a Community Celebration of Life and Butterfly Release, to be held June 18 at 1 p.m., for families to honour those they have lost.
Bagnulo says anyone who would like to remember a loved one, regardless of how long they’ve been gone, is welcome to participate in the memorial butterfly release. “We’d like to make it a special ceremony for all, for anyone who had a loss at any time in their life, to remember their loved one.”
The community centre will be set up inside with tables to allow for a small memorial or picture space for families to share and acknowledge their significant others.
“We hope to make memories on this day that our families can carry on into the future with new hope, acknowledging that their previous experience was less than conducive to the healing process of grief.”
Lord Mayor Betty Disero will read the names of loved ones who died during the pandemic.
The butterflies that will be released outside are indigenous to our area, born of a Butterfly Hatchery in Alberta, and are very helpful to our wildlife and ecosystem, says Bagnulo. “This is the perfect time of year for their release.”
The event may also be a fundraiser for palliative care, if there is money left over after covering costs, she says.
Butterflies must be ordered by May 20. There is a form to fill out to reserve butterflies, and return through email, scan, or regular mail. Payment can be made by cheque, and mailed to PO Box 130, 176 Wellington Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON, L0S 1J0. E-transfers can also be sent.
Butterflies are $25 each.
A cash payment can be made at the palliative care office from Tuesday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There are forms that can be filled out online on the palliative care website at www.notlpc.com, but please call by May 20 to reserve a butterfly.
For more information or to reserve a butterfly call 905-468-4433.