Butterfly-release ceremony in Bloomfield remembers loved ones

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BLOOMFIELD, NJ — The release of a butterfly, symbolizing the spiritual flight of a loved one’s soul, but also an escape from personal mourning, took place Saturday, Aug. 27, at Van Tassel Funeral Home in Bloomfield. Approximately 20 local people, including Bloomfield residents and children, attended the event, which, notwithstanding its novelty, was solemn and ceremonious. This was the second year of the butterfly release at the funeral home. 

The setting was the parking lot behind the Broad Street business. The commonplace blacktop surroundings, however, did nothing to keep people from choking up when naming the loved one they were honoring with their attendance. 

The ceremony was conducted by Angie Koeneker, of “Include Me Too,” a service that provides free-of-charge funeral support to children and adults.

“We’re here to remember a lot of people today,” she said, asking those in attendance to form a circle. “We’ll go around and tell who we are remembering.”

Koeneker first read from a list of 57 names, which included Buster the hamster. People on social media had contacted her requesting a remembrance, too, and these were dutifully noted.

Attending the ceremony was Carolee Boger, of Montclair. She came to remember her deceased husband, the Rev. Paul O. Boger Sr. They had been married 30 years, she said. From 1971 to 2002, he was the pastor for Bloomfield Presbyterian Church on the Green.

Bloomfield resident Louise Gentile also attended. She came to remember Rosa, her best friend of 35 years, she said. After Rosa died, Gentile said in a prayer that she would remember her as a butterfly. Later, at a birthday party for Gentile, when another friend gave her a necklace with a butterfly charm attached, Gentile understood this as a sign from Rosa.

“She loved to party,” she said of her friend.

Photos by Daniel Jackovino