Why My Journey Of Grief Is So Like A Butterfly’s Metamorphosis

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The other day I was staring out the window and saw the most beautiful butterfly flapping its wings and circling the flowers. While watching it flutter, I instantly felt a shared camaraderie with this majestic creature. My journey of grief parallels the butterfly’s metamorphosis on so many levels. I identified with the transformation process and wanted to use the butterfly to inspire me on the path towards a redefinition of my life.

The butterfly has clearly evolved into a symbol of renewal because of its impressive journey of metamorphosis. The butterfly expends vast amounts of energy transforming from an egg, to a caterpillar, to a chrysalis or cocoon, and finally to a refashioned magnificently colored, winged insect. If I think about how much exertion it takes to go through this transfiguring process, which lasts only about a month, I am utterly exhausted. Imagine your whole life changing to such a degree so that you are unrecognizable at the end of your journey? What I love, as I wonder about the transformation of the butterfly, is that she accepts and truly embraces the changes to her body. This unwavering acceptance of her metamorphosis, is her unshakeable trust that the process will lead her to a positive outcome. She believes that with all her hard work, she will evolve into the dream she has envisioned.

I can easily draw comparisons between the metamorphosis of the butterfly and my journey through grief. Like the butterfly I have struggled very hard through the various stages of grief. I have toiled and sweated and cocooned and patiently waited, as a chrysalis, to emerge one day as a new and different persona. I am trusting in the process to take me through my transformation. I also know that I cannot rush this process. There is an old legend that tells a tale about cocoons which goes something like this:

A boy spent hours watching a butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon. The insect managed to make a small hole, but its body was too large to get through it. After a long struggle, it appeared to be exhausted and remained absolutely still. The boy was sad for the creature and he decided to help her. With a pair of scissors, he cut open the cocoon, thus releasing the butterfly. However, the butterfly’s body was very small and weak and its wings were all crumpled. The boy continued to watch, hoping that the butterfly would open its wings and fly away. The butterfly never flew and spent the rest of its brief life dragging around its shrunken body and shriveled wings, incapable of flight. The boy, out of kindness had rushed the process and failed to understand that the tight cocoon and the efforts that the butterfly needed to make in order to squeeze out of that tiny hole, were nature’s way of strengthening the butterfly and it’s wings.

Like the butterfly in the cocoon, I cannot rush the process of grief. With tons of work, I have to navigate the process in order to reemerge as my new stronger self. If I am to fly off to my new destiny, I have to do it with work, help, and trust. I am thinking a spectacular Monarch Viceroy, a Crimson Rose, a Peacock Pansy, or how about an Australian Painted Lady? Right?

“The caterpillar does all the work, but the butterfly gets all the publicity.”
― George Carlin

Since I am a food writer, I will continue with butterfly symbolism in the best way I know how, by including a recipe for Butterflied Roast Chicken which is my totally favorite recipe of all time. Peter and I would eat this chicken once a week and hope for leftovers!

Serves 4
The key to this dish is to have the butcher cut out the backbone of the chicken to “butterfly” it. To butterfly a whole chicken means to remove the chicken’s backbone so you can open the chicken like a book, or a butterfly, and lay it flat. This is a basic recipe. If you would like to embellish it with rosemary or other herbs, feel free!
1 large roasting chicken, butterflied
Olive oil
Seasoning salt and pepper to taste
12 small new potatoes, sliced in half
12 peeled baby onions, or 12 peeled shallots sliced in half
1. Preheat the oven to 500ºF for standard oven or 450ºF for convection oven.
2. Rub olive oil on both sides of the butterflied chicken, season with seasoning salt and pepper, and place in a large roasting pan skin side up, splayed out.
3. Place the cut potatoes and shallots around the sides and coat them with olive oil cooking spray. Season the potatoes and onions.
4. Place the chicken in the preheated oven and cook it at 500ºF for 45 to 50 minutes. (If using a convection oven, roast the chicken at 450ºF for 45-50 minutes).
5. Remove, carve, and serve alongside the potatoes and onions.
Note: You can add carrots and mushrooms to the vegetables.

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