Levine Children’s Hospital annual butterfly release (Charlotte newborn photographer)

This weekend was Levine Children’s butterfly release to remember all of the sweet NICU babies who went home to heaven this year (and in years past). It was a beautiful ceremony and a wonderful way for the families and amazing staff at Levine to remember the children and heal their broken hearts. Cindy Lail, a NICU nurse at Levine, along with several other staff members helped to organize this years ceremony.

The story behind the butterfly release is about a Native American legend, it was said that if you wanted to speak to God you could whisper your prayers to a butterfly and he would carry them to heaven. Needless to say I saw many children sending up prayers to their siblings as well as parents who whispered to the butterflies before releasing them into the sky.

Jerry Mudge, a mother who also lost 2 of her children in a car accident, was present at the ceremony. She spearheaded the children’s memorial park along with other volunteers. “People wouldn’t have come up with the idea, this was God,” Mudge said. “It took eight years for us to listen to him and get in tune with His timing.” She wanted a place to help parents heal and have a physical place to come remember their children. “These are stories of hope. By building the walkway, we’ve given these people hope. It’s a place for them to heal,” she said. “When you remember your child and others remember, it helps you heal. You are doing something about your grief.”

Needless to say as a photographer for Now I Lay Me Down to sleep, it was healing for me as well to see these families hearts beginning to heal. Often times I am with them at the most heart breaking moments they will ever go through. It takes a toll on us as photographers as well. As it does the nurses and other staff members who care for these families. The butterfly release is for us too, to help us heal from the grief that we see and carry for these families. Here are a few images from the ceremony. If you’d like to see the entire slideshow, there is a link attached as well.

See all the images on the slideshow!