Hundreds of families gathered at the Sharon Shrine Temple on Saturday to celebrate the lives of children and siblings they have lost.
Compassionate Friends of Tyler brought families together to release 250 live butterflies in memory of lost children. The group also set up 427 wooden butterflies on the lawn, each with a photograph of a child that had been lost.
“It’s a memorial and it’s a happy occasion, in that the butterfly is a symbol of a new creation,” member Pamela Pickett said. “It comes out of the cocoon and it’s sort of a releasing of the soul of the children, to a happier, heavenly place.”
Pickett lost a son in 2003 in an automobile accident, which was devastating enough, but she later lost her other son to a heart attack at 42-years-old.
“That’s my future, that’s all I had,” she said.
Ms. Pickett heard about Compassionate Friends, but couldn’t bring herself to attend a meeting. It would take her four years before she was ready.
“I didn’t know what to expect and frankly, I was afraid,” she said. “But once I was there for the very first time, I realized that these people are in the same boat with me and they understand in a way that no other people can understand.
Ms. Pickett said the butterfly release not only helps parents, but also children. She believes the symbolic release allows young children to put their loss into perspective.
After the release, Tra Mobley found his brother Jiree’s wooden butterfly and took pictures of his mother, Regina, and grandmother, Johnnie, with the memorial. The Mobleys’ loss was one of the more recent. They lost 12-year-old Jiree just last month.
Today was a day of healing for them. They, along with hundreds of other families, celebrated his life as the butterflies were released.