Nerice Kaufman speaks to the crowd gathered at the annual Butterfly Release Memorial in Carlsbad. Photo by Christina Macone-Greene

Butterfly release event helps families, loved ones grieve

CARLSBAD — The Agua Hedionda Lagoon is always a tranquil site, but on May 20 its atmosphere was spectacular during the release of more than 250 colorful Monarch butterflies. For the second year in a row HNC (Hospice of the North Coast) hosted the Butterfly Release Memorial providing grievers with a free, special venue of hope and love.

Although HNC already offers a grief support groups and programs for those who have lost loved ones, the addition of the Butterfly Release Memorial has been embraced by hospice families and the whole community.

Joan Sweet performs at the annual Butterfly Release Memorial. Photo by Christina Macone-Greene

“The creation of this event is one such program that we offer early in the year; it is a time to bring together families and the community to reflect on the importance of valuing life and the time we have with our loved ones, to cherish their memory in passing and to release and let go of the grief we feel because they are no longer with us in the physical sense,” said Yvette Williams, public relations and events manager. “They live on in our memories and in spirit — that can’t be taken away.”

Williams went on to point out that guests always find the music and poetry readings extremely inspirational, as well.

As guests strolled in, they were greeted by smiles and hugs from volunteers and staff members of HNC.

As they settled into their seats, harpist Joan Sweet provided music.

Nerice Kaufman gave a warm welcome at the podium and Williams’ voice soared with her musical rendition of Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings.”


Other guest speakers included Nora Donston, Ti Johnson, Erin Hunt, and inspirational words from Chaplain Caroline Flanders.

Last year, HNC’s debut Butterfly Release Memorial attracted 75 guests. This year, the numbers skyrocketed.

The overwhelming response of more than 300 registrations spurred HNC to move the whole venue outdoors overlooking the picturesque lagoon.

Judith Miller and Yvette Williams, photo by Christina Macone-Greene

“People were so moved by last year’s event that a lot of them asked if we would have it again this year,” Williams said. “Many said there were people they know who would benefit from the community expression and symbolism of love, loss and letting go through releasing butterflies.”

Death and loss are never easy, Williams said, but seeing and sharing with others that have experienced the death of a loved one can often lead to healthier coping and an increased sense of a new normal without the physical presence of the deceased.

HNC is a nonprofit organization that lends a bereavement hand to its community. Williams said its bereavement programs are unfunded so 100 percent of all donations go towards helping others through much-needed grieving services.

The event was made possible by generous sponsors. Its venue sponsor, Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation Discovery Center, has been a strong supporter of HNC.

Williams said HNC would also like to give special thanks to Eternal Hills Memorial Park, Mortuary & Crematory, its memorial event sponsor, and the Carlsbad Hi-Noon Rotary Club for its butterfly sponsorship.

The Monarch butterflies were purchased from Nora Donston at A Butterfly Affaire.

More thanks were relayed to HNC’s administrative and auxiliary volunteers, and staff members.

Williams said what she wants most from the special afternoon is for everyone to feel a sense of belonging. “At HNC ‘we walk with you, so you don’t walk alone.’”

For more information about Hospice of the North Coast visit or call (760) 431-4100.