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Butterfly release honors loved ones no longer living

By Mike Elswick melswick@news-journal.com
May 20, 2012 at 10 p.m.


More than 150 butterflies were released Saturday morning in a celebration of life - for those no longer among the living.

Volunteers with Compassionate Friends organized the event at the J.R. Curtis Memorial Garden for the Blind on the grounds of Longview's Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center. More than 100 people attended the butterfly release and ceremony.

The crowd had a common bond - one many said they wished they did not share.

Compassionate Friends is a support group for parents who have lost children and most of those attending Saturday's event were parents, family members and friends of family who lived through that experience, according to Elgin Lary, one of the organizers.

Brenda Upshaw, another volunteer organizer, said this was the fourth year the group has held the butterfly release as a time for parents, family members and friends to celebrate the lives of those they have lost. She said the event was a huge success.

"We had about 150 butterflies released and more than 100 people attend - the weather was beautiful," Upshaw said.

Many people brought momentos of their loved ones - photos and other items. Lary said the event brings together people who can relate to each other because they have been though similar circumstances.

"The purpose is to support and be around others who share that experience," Lary said. "Sometimes people who mean well, who have not lived through that experience, will say stupid things."

He said friends will often tell parents of children who have died to clean their room out or encourage them to get on with their lives.

"People should do those kind of things when they're ready," he said.

But everyone is different and deals with grief in their own way and on their own schedule, he said, adding that men and women grieve differently.

That is one reason he remains involved with the Longview group - to help support other men in the same type of situation.

He lost his 22-year-old son, James Lee, in an automobile wreck several years ago.

"We're here because sometimes we need each other," Lary said. "Sometimes we just need someone to talk to, cry with or laugh with - and sometimes we just need someone to listen and not say anything in return."

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