Steps of Hope Remembrance Event Brings Hope and Healing

July 22, 2022, Counseling & Support, Gilchrist Events

Steps of Hope Remembrance Event Brings Hope and Healing

“The possibility of peace is all around us, in the world and in nature. Peace is also within us, in our bodies and our spirits. The act of walking will water the seeds of peace that are already there inside us. Our mindful steps help us cultivate the habit of touching peace in each moment.”

 – Thich Nhat Hahn (a reading shared at Steps of Hope 2022)

7th annual Steps of Hope

June 12, 2022, marked the 7th annual Steps of Hope event and the return of coming together in person for the first time since 2019.

The Gilchrist grief program welcomed over 300 attendees to Baltimore County’s Cromwell Valley Park to honor loved ones. Everyone was given a memory badge that included photographs of their loved ones. Gilchrist’s music therapists performed several selections throughout the day, and speakers shared meaningful reflections and readings.

All attendees walked a special path together in quiet reflection. Along the way, signs offered words of encouragement, reminding participants to be gentle with themselves as they walk with grief, walk slowly and pause often. Memory flags lined the trail, and people stopped when they saw their loved one’s name—often taking a picture.

Our time together ended with a special ritual highlighting our connection with those remembered. This year, our attendees created a butterfly garden, placing butterflies in decorated containers when their loved one’s name was read aloud.

What can we learn

Steps of Hope was meant to be held in nature. During the ceremony, Hilary Harrington shared what we can learn from nature about grief and healing:

“Nature is big enough for our grief. Nature is bigger than our grief. Nature mirrors our feelings and our experiences. Nature shows us that change is inevitable but need not be scary. Nature confirms that despite times of discomfort and strangeness, we can adjust and grow and survive.

“May you find comfort in nature’s power to simply, without judgment, hold you in each moment. Allow nature to serve as a guide to questions of ‘What now?’ or ‘What next?’ Nature allows itself to mourn temporarily before it gets busy moving forward. In nature, we can learn to be present, still, quiet by simply observing and listening. Nature invites us to slow down.

“Nature models the process of letting go. It can be scary to ‘let go’ because we think there may be nothing left. But consider that letting go of what we don’t need only allows room for healing, hope, peace. Let go and wait—see what remains—love, memories, understanding of how connection with loved ones continues.”

This blog was written and contributed by Hilary T. Harrington, LCPC, CT, Gilchrist Clinical Counselor

All photos courtesy of Quinn Harrington 

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