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Butterfly Run Vancouver Island

A few weeks ago while doing after-school pickup and starving for conversation, I took the opportunity to chat with the other parents waiting for their children. Of course, the topic of work came up, which I always hope for. I love talking about being a celebrant. Amid our conversation another mom overheard me mention that I was a celebrant and interjected, "Did you just say you were a celebrant?" I was surprised, "You know what a celebrant is?" Followed by, "Yes, I am!"

This mom jumped in and informed me she was looking for a celebrant and asked if I would be willing to connect with her. In our very brief conversation, while the kids were running out of their classrooms, she explained that she was part of an organisation called The Butterfly Run.

I felt an instant connection as she described the annual run/walk for individuals and families who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss. Before she could finish her pitch I said yes! After we exchanged numbers and agreed that further conversation was needed, I made myself a little vulnerable and let her know our family had also experienced incredible loss. Our family began with a stillborn baby named Jack, followed by a miscarriage a year later... I knew that the Butterfly Run was something I needed to be a part of.

It took a few weeks but we finally connected and I agreed to create a ritual for the participants.

Creating rituals is one of my favourite things to do. When I can picture the setting, the people involved and what we hope to connect with, I begin to picture an experience that we might have together.

My hope was that this ritual would offer participants a point of connection to themselves, their grief, another human or a moment to pause. I do believe rituals can help bring people together and remind us that we are a part of a bigger community.

So on Oct 15th I packed what I needed for the ritual, loaded two of my kids into the car and headed off for Westwood Lake, Nanaimo. 

I met some incredible people that day, people that understood my grief and people that knew they needed to have a place of connection. The Butterfly Run created that space.

Despite the very early morning my teenage daughter Rowan and 8-year-old daughter Eliza joined me. I was thankful to have them both there and watch them participate in their unique way. As I was setting up and preparing myself I asked the girls to help to create a nature mandala that would be the framework for the ritual

And this is what they created. 

Just before the run began, I was allowed to come before all the participants to not only explain the ritual but also to share a bit of my own story as a bereaved parent. This ritual would be for all of us.

During the walk I encouraged everyone to look around them and try to identify a piece of nature they felt connected to and could hold during their time of walking, to reflect on their grief and the circle of healing they are in. Could they name their grief and place it into the item they were holding?

At the end of the walk, a location was marked with ribbons where they would find the nature mandala.

The Mandala represents the circle of connection and the community that this run offers. To know you are not alone in your grief or your healing. When you place your little piece of grief into the mandala you are joining a community of grief.

The Butterfly Run offers this; we hope to empower families to share their stories and we provide this run as a healing space for you in your journey. As alone as you might feel right now, we want you to know that we walk beside you.

This was exactly how I felt on October 15, not alone in a healing space.

It was such a privilege to join this incredible organization, to not only share something I had to offer but to be held at the same time.

For more info about Deanna,

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