Inside the NICU

The truly great

Today marked our third annual Butterfly Remembrance Ceremony for the Women and Babies Program at Sunnybrook. We were all so worried about the weather, but decided to hold fast and hope for the best. And while it might have been raining elsewhere in Toronto, we all stayed dry in our little garden as we gathered together to support each other and honour these special babies and children.

We are so thankful that so many family members came; it takes courage to step into the circle and grieve together, and we hope that it brings some peace and healing. We also send thanks to Rebecca Collett who shared her glorious voice with us, to the parents who so beautifully shared their stories and read poems, to Kelly for organizing everything so perfectly, and to Brenda our chaplain and Helen our wonderful music therapist who led such a meaningful and lovely program.


Brenda introduced a new and wonderful element to our event this year; she asked everyone to take a small painted stone, and then shared these instructions:

Keep me as your remembrance stone, to hold as a small comfort. When you’re ready to let me go, give me back to nature.

We then concluded with our butterfly ritual, in which every parent wrote a message on a butterfly and hung it on our tree. The wind tried to shake our butterflies loose but Meghan wasn’t letting any of them go! (And thank you Meghan for taking on butterfly duty!)


This next poem wasn’t included in today’s ceremony, and Stephen Spender was not writing about babies, but it does come to mind when thinking of these children and their wonderful families. The entire poem can be found here, but please read this small excerpt.

From I Think Continually of Those Who Were Truly Great …

Born of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.

These words are true of the historical figures they were originally written about, and of the soldiers who were engaged in war at the time the poem was written. They are also true of those wonderful small people who come into our lives, but who can’t always stay. Please take a moment and think about how they have changed our world and our lives, even without having had the benefit of much time here.
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Thanks again to everyone who came together to give us all this gift. We are so grateful.

About the author


Kate Robson