Thinking Out Loud — Beautiful Butterfly

By John T. Catrett, III
Chaplain at AllCare Hospice

The grief process has been compared to many things, but the one I like most is that of the transformation sequence of the butterfly. We grievers can find ourselves stuck inside the dubious, but familiar, security of the cocoon of grief, or we can feel “stuck” because we see no way forward. What can we do? Do we want to do anything?

There is a push and pulling sensation that occur during the grieving time when we have lost someone very close to us. Grievers desire to move past their sorrow, but often we find ourselves unable to move out of that safe and sound place that grief can become, and yet, our intuitive nature to venture further in our lives pushes us to go forward. Oh, what a perplexing feeling that can be! Stirring when we want to stay, and staying when we desire to progress that is so frustrating!

The Butterfly’s journey to surface from the cocoon is not an easy task! The caterpillars know instinctively that if they do nothing they will liquefy within the cocoon, but it requires great effort for them to emerge from the cocoon and eventually fly into the world of exciting possibilities. The caterpillar knows automatically that it will die if it does not take action to leave the protection of the cocoon, but for us it takes a distinctive decision process to become proactive to emerge into the potential beyond the cocoon of passiveness stagnate grief.

To move beyond grief is a natural course of action. Just as the caterpillar follows its natural instincts to emerge from the cocoon, grievers have the choice to take action steps to emerge from the grip of grief and ultimately fly into the life of promise that awaits us. Maya Angelou writes, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty…”

Grief can feel very baffling and overpowering, and we grievers can be swamped with contradictory feelings. These feelings can leave us worn out and defenseless, but the urge to move forward lives just beneath surface of all the chaos and uncertainty. But the caterpillar struggles out of the cocoon, and within that struggle become stronger than ever before to finally develop into a beautiful butterfly.

Precious friend, moving beyond grief is not an easy journey, but allow the image of the magnificent butterfly to inspire you from beginning to end and past your grief. May God bless you in your journey!

Updated 01-28-2011

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