SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. — While JoAnn Martarano Rabel spoke about her late mother during a memorial ceremony May 22, her phone started ringing.
She joked that it was her mother calling.
Moments like this during the ceremony served as a reminder that though gone, loved ones who have passed away are never forgotten.
Martarano Rabel, of Dunmore, spoke on behalf of her mother Catherine, who died this past February after an eighth-month stay in AseraCare hospice. AseraCare sponsored the memorial ceremony at St. Gabriel’s Monastery, which included a butterfly release.
“We couldn’t have done it without (AseraCare) and they were kind and considerate and we had an amazing nurse – we could have called them at any time, day or night,” Rabel said.
Nearly 100 people gathered at the monastery to publicly reflect on loved ones who passed away. Many thanked the hospice for aiding their family during end-of-life care.
The event also featured live music and refreshments.
“This is an annual event for AseraCare Hospice and we want to give back to our patients and their families…,” AseraCare Executive Director Chrissy Jacoby said. “This is open to the community and not just for our patients.”
The significance of the butterfly release is to honor and memorialize loved ones lost, and it symbolizes new beginnings and rebirth. The butterfly embodies a spiritual growth and transcendence from caterpillar to butterfly.
“We all know they were once caterpillars, not having any idea of what their potential is, there is a marvelous, marvelous transformation that will happen,” Pastor John Hardman-Zimmerman said. “Like the butterfly, we, too, start off in darkness. We are earth-bound in darkness before we enter eternal life. The transformation is the invitation of God here and now.”
During the ceremony, staff members read aloud names of the departed, submitted by attendees.
“The staff does this for families that have lost loved ones and what I see is our staff in a moment of recognition, they picture themselves in a family’s kitchen or by a patient’s bedside and it brings a sense of closure to them as well because they, too, grieve for the people they care for,” said AseraCare regional director Doreen Foy, of New Jersey.