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Join Gilchrist for Steps of Hope: A Virtual Event to Remember Loved Ones

July 16, 2021, Counseling & Support, Gilchrist, Gilchrist Events, Grief
Marty Lane, Gilchrist Bereavement Volunteer

Gilchrist’s 6th Annual Steps of Hope Virtual Healing Tribute Walk begins with a video launch on July 23, at 7:30 p.m.

Gilchrist’s Steps of Hope remembrance event offers members of the community an opportunity to experience the healing power of nature as they remember and honor loved ones they have lost. We invite you to walk in honor of your loved one, in whatever form that walk may be. The event will offer space to learn about nature’s power to support our emotional selves and create a community, even if distanced, to take your “steps of hope.” 

Why Steps of Hope Brings Healing

Steps of Hope has become a meaningful and popular event that our community looks forward to each year. The event offers healing for a variety of reasons: 

  • Being present with each other in nature and becoming a part of something that is bigger than our grief offers a sense of calm during a time of deep pain and sadness.
  • Being outdoors with nature is comforting.
  • Listening to beautiful, soothing music that touches our hearts brings us all together in our brokenness and hopes for the future.
  • Moving our bodies gets us actively doing something positive for our departed loved ones and ourselves.

Even though this year we cannot walk together as a Gilchrist group because of COVID, taking a walk alone or with other friends and family can still be emotionally healing. It’s amazing how doing something physical like a walk helps those of us who feel powerless and out of control after the death of a loved one. It lifts our sadness a bit by honoring our loved ones on a special walk. 

When we take a break from our routine activities and look at different scenery, our outlook changes. Walking quietly and slowly outside gives us the space to think about our loved one and how we are changed because of our loss. The sights, smells and sounds of the landscape ground us to what is present in our lives right now. We notice our feelings about our loss and put them in perspective with the nature around us. We can imagine walking with our loved one and offering up our hopes for them.

The Impact on Participants

As a volunteer planner of the event, each year I have had the privilege of observing the impact of Steps of Hope on those who participate. It is so touching to see families get together to honor the same loved one who is missed by each family member in a different way. 

Some families all wear a matching t-shirt with their loved one’s picture on it. 

I’ve seen a 70-year-old woman walking alone comforted by a young girl she met on the path who said, “I lost my mommy, too.”  

I’ve seen an elderly woman with a cane struggling but determined to walk the mile and a half through the hills to honor her husband who passed.  

We’ve had Steps of Hope events when it rained, yet the participants persevered, saying the rain matched their feelings of grief.

Connected by Shared Losses

This year, know that there are many people walking with you in different places and at different times throughout the weekend, all in honor of their departed loved ones. We are all connected because of our shared losses.

Although our traditional butterfly release will not take place this year, maybe you will find a butterfly on your walk. For many who have witnessed the butterfly release in years past, butterflies are a symbol of the transformation of our deceased loved ones as we watch the butterflies leave the earth and fly away. We are reminded of how our loved ones are nearby though they are not with us anymore. We can also find wonder in the life around us.  

I hope you will join us at this powerful event, which will provide a time for reflection and remembrance, and an opportunity to hold a space for peace amidst grief. All participants will be invited to later share photographs of your walks and those you are honoring. You will come away with the knowledge that you are truly never alone. 

To learn more and register, visit gilchristcares.org/stepsofhope. To support Gilchrist’s work, visit gilchristcares.org/give.

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One thought on “Join Gilchrist for Steps of Hope: A Virtual Event to Remember Loved Ones

  1. Joan Tisdale says:

    We held the memorial service for my husband on our 55th anniversary. I’m am totally devastated and in treatment for depression. It’s hard for me to leave home as I feel like I’m leaving him. Besides our kids, I’m trying to figure out if there’s a purpose for my life.

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