Grief is different for everyone. The process has its ebbs and flows, and every person processes grief in their own way.
Rob Pecht, the owner of the Bordentown funeral home, understands how difficult the grief process can be. He became inspired to think of a way people could express their grief in a symbolic way.
On June 15, Pecht will team up with Christ Church Parish in Bordentown to host a butterfly release ceremony, where the public is welcome to join them as they release 200 Monarch butterflies into Christ Church’s butterfly garden.
Working towards creating something beautiful to celebrate the life there was before, Pecht went to Christ Church and asked if he could build a butterfly garden. About a year ago, Pecht created the garden and filled it with plants to prepare for the future butterflies.
In order to accomplish his vision, Pecht went to father Matthew Tucker, the priest of Christ Church, for assistance and permission to use the church’s land for the garden. Pecht provided the funds to create the garden and Father Tucker shares that people have been attracted to it since it was first built.
“Spring is the stepping stone for life, for a new beginning,” said Pecht, “why not give people that opportunity to look for a new beginning.”
It takes time to heal after loss, and sometimes people are left permanently impacted by a loss, he said. After a funeral, and as the weeks go by, the world keeps turning and moves past the grief an individual is feeling in the wake of a loved ones passing.
“Families are surrounded when the initial death occurs,” said Pecht, “[then] everyone goes back to their lives little by little, and families are left to their own grieving.”
Then the “firsts” begin, said Pecht. The first anniversary, the first birthday, the first big accomplishment that your loved one won’t be around for.
Pecht imagines this process as something butterflies go through before they transform into the beautiful creatures they are. As a caterpillar, they coocone themselves from the world, until they break free of their self-imposed bondage.
Pecht sees them as the perfect symbol for grieving individuals. This “temporary enclosure” represents the wall grieving individuals put up to the world, but “by releasing the butterflies [Pecht hopes] it encourages people to break out of their emotional cocones.”
Why Pecht choose Monarch butterflies as the butterflies to be released at this event is because of several reasons: they are beautiful; they’re one of the more common breeds of butterflies in the state; they represent royalty andcan be seen as a symbol of the monarchy (hence their name); and that they appear to be fearless.
Pecht was inspired to build the butterfly garden when he thought about Blue Christmas. There are services specific to grief, struggle, fear, during times of what otherwise would be happiness and cheer. Pecht thought of the butterfly release ceremony as a way to pay tribute to the grieving process, and a way for the community to help those grieving “get everyone through the tough parts.”
The butterflies will be arriving in individual containers and one will be provided for each family that attends. Tucker will speak, as will Pecht, and then a countdown will take place to release the butterflies into the garden.
“I am hoping the event draws attention to the churchyard,” said Tucker, “bringing life and beauty into a graveyard is important.”
The Christ Church graveyard contains the graves of historic Bordentown residents that served during the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and the Civil War. Some figures that rest in the graveyard includes former rectors of Christ Church, Rev. Edgar L. Sanford, Rev. Nathanial Pettit and Rev. Frank C. Leeming.
Tucker saw the butterfly garden as an opportunity that will not only lend beauty, but will serve as a “place of refreshment and peace.”
“Our parishioners love it,” Tucker said. Beyond the church’s parishioners, residents of Bordentown have walked through to get a look at the garden as well.
“I hope it inspires wonder and comfort, especially to the children,” Tucker said.
The five stages of grief, according to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 novel, On Death and Dying, are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Experts have both supported and argued against the notion that grief can be broken down in stages, Pecht said.
There are a variety of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual reactions individuals may experience during the grief process.
“Death can be one source of grief, but individuals mourn for a vast number of reasons. “Grief is more than just the loss of a person,” said Pecht. The loss of a job, the loss of a friendship and a divorce are just a few events people go through that may cause grieve.
“What better way for you to take those fears, and release them,” said Pecht.