~ Symbolism of Butterflies ~
The image of the butterfly was one that started
surface for me in the Spring of 1995, as a symbol of rebirth, renewal and
happiness. I would see butterflies everywhere in cards, images, books,
jewelry and flying around etc.; this was during a time when they were not
yet as popular as they are now. The butterfly served to remind me of how
beautiful, delicate and fragile life can be, so that we should remember
to appreciate and be grateful for each moment.
The butterfly counts
but in moments and has
The butterfly also symbolized change, rebirth
and renewal. I found several pieces of butterfly jewelry to wear as a daily
reminder of the transformation process. The poem "Transformation"
was written at the end of 1995, as my birthday poem that year after taking
a class called "Renewing Life." For the first time in years, I felt that
I was starting to emerge from under the dazed-state of fatigue and resulting
depression that I had functioned through during medical school and my intern
years. In hindsight I can now see that instead of suffering from depression,
I was dealing, or more appropriately not dealing with, a series of major
and cumulative losses, both personal and professional. I was experiencing
a grief response to these losses manifest by irritability, hostility, intermittent
insomnia and the occasional inability to concentrate. Neither myself, or
any of those close to me were able to see that I was grieving. This would
take several years of self-study pursuing my own self-designed fellowship
in Loss, Grief and Bereavement before the proper "diagnosis" was made.
The butterfly as a representation of joy, happiness
and transformation is one that I have used at several ceremonies. During
the last month of my internal medicine residency, I organized a remembrance
ceremony to remember special patients that the resident physicians
had lost. As part of the preparations, I made several dozen origami butterflies
for decorations and for the participants to take home as a memento of the service.
At the end of the ceremony, a sudden gust of wind appeared picked up and carried off several
of the butterflies making them appear to "fly" from their resting place off of the table.
For my wedding and reception in 1997 I created
several hundred iridescent butterflies. They adorned in my bouquet, the
cake and the flowers, adding a magical, ethereal quality to the occasion,
and have brougnt us much joy.
Over the last few years in creating this site,
the butterfly has become much more popular and can now be found on clothes,
jewelry, cards (including sympathy cards), books, magazine, etc. Other
organizations dealing with grief and loss, or death and dying have also
adopted the butterfly as their logo to represent rebirth and transformation.
It has been interesting to see just how pervasive the butterfly symbolism
has become in the nearly 4 1/2 years of the life of this website.
The Butterfly and Transitional Medicine
The butterfly is a perfect symbol for describing
transitional medicine. This insect starts life as a caterpillar, then spins
its cocoon. During the time the caterpillar lies dormant sequestered off
from the rest of the world, there is a period of great transition and change.
Finally after this time of self-imposed seclusion and transition, the caterpillar
awakens and emerges, transformed, forever changed into a beautiful butterfly.
In the grief process, the bereaved person must
deal with the loss, or significant change. Many people may hide away from
the rest of the world much like being in a cocoon while trying to heal.
This cocoon phase is one of transformation and often introspection and
reflection. The process ends as the person emerges from their cocoon, metamorphosed
into a different person. Thus the transformation of the grieving process
is much like the story of the butterfly. This image of positive transformation
was an obvious choice for the website.
Like the butterfly,
I have the strength and
the hope to believe
I will emerge from my
Kirsti A. Dyer,
See the Emergency
911 Page for links to immediate resources
if you are feeling helpless,
hopeless, overwhelmingly depressed, or suicidal.
| A Healing Place
| Loss & Grief
| Emergency Pick-Me-Ups
| Condolence & Sympathy
| Transitional Medicine
| Butterflies & Blazes
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