Monday, July 27, 2015

Butterfly Release In Honor of My Dad

Sounds magical, doesn’t it? Butterflies released in a beautiful dance across the sky to honor your deceased family member or friend?

The Plaque Wall – we thought only family members
of the deceased whose name appeared on this wall
would attend the Butterfly Release Ceremony.
But actually anybody who had a loved one
in the entire cemetery was invited to attend. 
When my mother invited some of my family members to a butterfly release event to celebrate my father, who had passed away this past March, I envisioned a group of people gathering together to hear a few loving words about each participant’s family members, and then we would release our beautiful butterflies into the air and watch them fill the sky with color. I brought my camera along to take photos of the event.

The temperature, combined with the humidity, made the event uncomfortable and hundreds of people were sprawled out on chairs or standing in the hot sun or under a canopy waiting for the event to begin.  Earlier somebody had passed out makeshift envelopes that held our captive butterflies. 

One of my nephews holds our family's envelopes 
with the butterflies we waited so long to release. 
Next to him stands one of my sisters.
In front of him stands one of my daughters.
Behind her is my mother under the canopy.
The speaker spoke not one word about anybody other than his own family members. And he spoke on and on and on and on and he prayed on and on and on and on – about his relatives. 

And then his brother began playing music to honor their mother, and then a woman read to all the children at the event a book, written by their mother, and then they played more music devoted to their mother, while in between all of these events the speaker talked on and on and on and on about his mother, his father, his grandfather, and his uncle – I think – I kind of lost focus after the first 20 minutes, and prayed on and on and on and on, and I wondered about the poor butterflies that had been stuck inside envelopes in the sweltering heat for such a long time.

So while the rest of us were there for our own family members, though not one word of respect was spoken to honor them, we listened to this family drone on and on about their own loved ones and wondered if perhaps they thought the entire ceremony was about only them.

When the speaker finally came to the end of the ceremony, he spoke these words before we released our jailed butterflies: “Hopefully not too many of them will get trampled.” 

Those words should have clued us all in to what was to follow, because as soon as we “released” our butterflies from their cages, the poor lethargic things dropped to the ground and we had to coax them to fly. 
Finding them was difficult, but if you look above and to the right
of the shadow located on the lower left of the photo, you can see it.

Notice people searching the ground for their butterflies.
Found one!
As you can see by the photos, no grand fill-the-sky images existed. In one photo you can see people bent over searching for the butterflies they released. Hundreds of butterflies had to find enough energy to get up off the ground before hundreds of feet trampled them to death after their excruciating captivity. 

Out of the hundreds of butterflies released that day, I saw only about 5 butterflies flying above ground. What a disappointment! Sorry, Dad. And sorry, butterflies.


  1. I'm so sorry. It doesn't make sense that the speaker spoke more about his family than your dad. It sounds like they turned it around to suit themselves. That wasn't right, but I'm glad that you noticed those five butterflies. They hold lots of meaning. I also believe that your dad knows that your family was there for him.

    1. Thank you, Kim. Sorry for the delay in responding. I just hope that next time, they give more attention to other family members instead of focusing only on their own. Apparently this is a yearly event. My family and I won't be attending the next one, however – for obvious reasons.

  2. I like to think of moments like this as a collective of senses of humor. Those guys were all up there probably laughing their heads off. :)

    1. Sorry for the delayed response. You may be right. I can also imagine my father laughing his head off that we had to stand in that horrendous heat listening to another family drone on and on about their loved ones while we held those poor nearly lifeless butterflies in our envelopes. I also think my dad would have felt very sorry for the butterflies.

  3. I think I'd marched up ... take the microphone from his hand and tell people why there was a ceremony in the first place. My Heart breaks for the butterflies as well as for you and your family. Sad.

    1. Thank you, Gloria, and I apologize for taking so long to respond. I didn't know until today that I even had comments ;)