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(Photo courtesy of Kathie Kelly)

Compassionate Friends say goodbye to loved ones with butterfly release

by | May 28, 2024 | ALLFFP, Events, Non-Profits

Members of the Fredericksburg chapter of the Compassionate Friends released butterflies May 18 at Redeemer Lutheran Church in honor of loved ones who have died. Despite rainy conditions, organizers deemed the release successful.

“It was a very comforting experience for everyone in attendance,” said Kathie Kelly, who has led the chapter for the last 23 years. “We had 300 butterflies to release and to our relief, the rain slowed down when we were ready to release them.”

Releasing butterflies is symbolic of the cyclical nature of life —the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly represents the journey from life to death and beyond.

“A lot of the members in attendance felt as though they were able to talk to their children and other family members they’ve lost as the butterflies lingered and didn’t want to leave at first,” Kelly said. “Afterwards, we held a potluck … with chicken and pizza provided by The Compassionate Friends. We plan on doing this again every year but probably in a less busy month since May is full of graduations and Mother’s Day.”

The Compassionate Friends was founded in 1969 by Simon Stephens and two sets of grieving parents in England and was brought to the United States in 1978. Today, there are over 500 chapters serving all 50 states, including Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

“We have roughly 10 to 15 people in attendance for our monthly meetings,” Kelly said. “But it’s more of a come-as-needed. Some people may not come to every meeting because they don’t need the meeting that month and that’s perfectly OK. It is a safe place to talk about their lost loved ones and everything that is said here stays here.”

The Fredericksburg Chapter of The Compassionate Friends meets on the third Tuesday of every month at the Redeemer Lutheran Church from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

“We also have the 47th The Compassionate Friends National Conference in July that will be held in New Orleans this year,” Kelly said. “You truly don’t realize how many people are bereaved until you go to these meetings or conferences and hear their stories.”

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