The Butterfly is used as a symbol by many hospice societies world-wide. Drawings and carvings of butterflies, done by children, were found on concentration camp walls by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, an expert in the area of dealth and dying.
The butterfly symbolizes the transition between life and death. The caterpillar forms its cocoon and prepares to leave life as he knows it, to become a lovely butterfly.
The Delta Hospice Society adopted the butterfly as its emblem in 1991 upon its incorporation as a non-profit society. May the butterfly represent for you all that is beautiful in life.
Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross 1926 – 2004
Kübler-Ross was born as one of triplet sisters in Zurich, Switzerland, on July 8, 1926. The focus of her work in death and dying crystallized in 1945. She was a member of the International Voluntary Service for Peace who helped in ravaged communities after World War II. In the concentration camp, Maidanek, carved into the walls where prisoners spent their final hours, she discovered the symbolic butterflies which would become her symbol of the beautiful transformation that she believed occurred at the time of death.
After graduating from medical school at the University of Zurich, she came to the United States in 1958. She worked in major hospitals in New York, Colorado, and Chicago, and she was appalled by the standard treatment of dying patients.” They were shunned and abused; nobody was honest with them,” she said. Unlike her colleagues, she made it a point to sit with terminal patients, listening as they poured out their hearts to her. While simultaneously raising two small children, she began giving lectures featuring dying patients who talked about their most intimate dying experiences. “My goal was to break through the layer of professional denial that prohibited patients from airing their inner-most concerns,” she wrote.
Always outspoken, her work in challenging the medical profession to change its view of dying patients brought about great change and advanced many important concepts such as living wills, home health care, and helping patients to die with dignity and respect. “She always was, and will continue to be, a strong voice for the rights of terminally ill patients,” noted Dr. Gregg Furth, New York Jungian psychologist, a close family friend and supporter.
The Jason Program was inspired by the work of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. She told us in Maine that when she died she would become a butterfly that would at times come and land on our shoulders and pinch us when we needed to be reminded of what is most important in caring for dying children. Thank you Elisabeth, for teaching us and keeping us focused on what is most important in life, hope and unconditional love. — The Jason Program Staff
Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, psychiatrist and prolific author of the ground- breaking book, On Death and Dying, died Tuesday evening, August 24, 2004, in Scottsdale, Arizona of natural causes. She was surrounded by her family and close friends. She was 78.