The sky cleared and the sun came out for the Central Okanagan Hospice Association’s Butterfly Vigil at Rhapsody Plaza Monday.
It was the first time in three years that people have been able to remember their loved ones in this unique and colourful way.
“We are thrilled to be back here again, to be supporting our community in this time of healing,” COHA executive director Natasha Girard said.
The experience is different for everyone.
“So, as people are opening up the little boxes that the butterflies are in, sometimes they may stay on the hand, sometimes they may stay in the box, or sometimes they just might actually fly out of the box right away. And I think it’s so individualized of what meaning that brings to you in this special time,” Girard said.
Among those in attendance was Kelowna city councillor Loyal Wooldridge.
“I actually danced in Swinging With the Stars back in 2014 for the Central Okanagan Hospice Association with my partner. And at the time it was a fun event and it was about fundraising for the community, but I didn’t actually need any of the hospice services.
“Then a couple of years later, I lost my mom unexpectedly and tragically, and that’s when I really leaned into those services that COHA provides,” he explained.
It was his first time taking part in the vigil, and he wasn’t the only newcomer.
Sisters Cornelia Lewis and Marilyn Tietz were there with their brother-in-law Eric Andreasen to remember their sister, Klaudia Ursula Tietz, who passed away at the age of 69 on Jan. 8. They released six butterflies in her memory, and it seemed to lighten their spirits.
A new memory wall was unveiled at the event for people to sign the names of lost loved ones. It will now be displayed at the Rotary Centre for the Arts and Kelowna Innovation Centre until the end of the month. Anyone who wants to remember a lost loved one can stop by, make a donation and add their message to the wall.
This is the 40th anniversary of COHA. Donations help fund quality hospice palliative care programs and services in the Central Okanagan.
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