By Ms. Gloria Montgomery (Army Medicine)October 25, 2016
Heartbreak morphed into cherished memories as tears of sorrow fluttered away when butterflies took flight during Carl. R. Darnall Army Medical Center's Walk to Remember.
"When the caterpillar disappears into the cocoon, it emerges into something more beautiful and more powerful than it did before," said Chaplain (Capt.) Soojin Chang to nearly 30 parents, family and friends who gathered October 15 at Fort Hood Resiliency Center's reflection pond to release butterflies honoring and remembering a pregnancy or an infant loss.
Releasing the butterfly brought peace and happiness to CRDAMC's Lt. Col. Alicia Surrey as she reflected on her 2008 miscarriage.
"It's just a really nice time to honor the baby we had," she said, as she and her young daughter watched their Monarch butterfly fly from flower to flower. "There's something so peaceful about the release."
Surrey also said she has used previous walks to have conversation with her children about infant loss.
"It's really an ideal time to let them know that some babies don't make it home," the mother of three said. "That's why we honor them during these events and to let others know that they aren't alone."
The annual national day of remembrance, sponsored by the CRDAMC ministry team, raises awareness of pregnancy loss and infant death, as well as allows parents and loved ones time to grieve, remember and reflect. October also is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
"There is deep longing for that little life that didn't have a chance," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Darren Coleman, CRDAMC's chief of ministry, during a short ceremony inside the Resiliency Chapel before the butterfly release. "For those parents who have gone through a miscarriage, or if that baby has had a special defect, that baby is now free."
Coleman, touching on the emotional turmoil and personal struggles when there is the loss of a baby or pregnancy, told the group that the intensity of pain following a loss is real.
"Let us not forget it is okay to grieve," he said, adding that the day's event also offered strength and support. "Today is an opportunity for families who have had some type of prenatal or infant loss to work through their bereavement and to be able to find some resources for their strength and education to work through their process."
Although Maj. Mark Rendon and his family annually participate in walks to honor their three pregnancy losses, this was the first time for a butterfly release.
"It made the day extra special," he said, "because it was a first."
This was the third Walk to remember for CRDAMC's Lt. Col. Yvette McCrea.
"It was very cathartic," she said, "because it gave me that time to remember the baby I lost and to reflect and release those emotions."
Surrey said she is grateful to CRDAMC's unit ministry team for sponsoring the event.
"They always add a respectful touch to these events," she said. "We have an incredible ministry team, and I'm very thankful for their efforts."
Guest speaker for the event was Rev. Emma Jane Conley, Seton Medical Center's chaplain, who spoke about the group's pain and the symbolism of the butterfly's life cycle.
"Life is continually recreated," she said, "By setting these butterflies free with our love, we are letting go of that pain and allowing it to be resurrected with love and hope."
As each participant stood atop the bridge to open the envelope to release the small Monarch butterfly to let it take flight, Chaplain Chang's final words of encouragement were to remind the group of their strength.
"The release of butterflies is a symbol of their memory and a promise to them that we will be strong until we see them again," he said. "We have crossed a lot of bridges in our lives and when you cross it, it shows us that you are strong."