Healing found at Bereavement Day ceremony

Terry Frank (left) and Joseph Archie played drums while Margo Archie followed along with a handmade rattle. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Terry Frank (left) and Joseph Archie played drums while Margo Archie followed along with a handmade rattle. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
A small group braved the chilly air to attend a Bereavement Day ceremony in Centennial park last Thursday. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)A small group braved the chilly air to attend a Bereavement Day ceremony in Centennial park last Thursday. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Joseph Archie (L) and Terry Frank drum in Centennial Park at the 2022 Bereavement Ceremony. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Joseph Archie (L) and Terry Frank drum in Centennial Park at the 2022 Bereavement Ceremony. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Joseph Archie (L) and Terry Frank drum and sing during the ceremonies with the falls in the background. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Joseph Archie (L) and Terry Frank drum and sing during the ceremonies with the falls in the background. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Sarah Smith, the 100 Mile District Hospice Palliative Care Society’s bereavement co-ordinator encourages people to remember their loved ones. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Sarah Smith, the 100 Mile District Hospice Palliative Care Society’s bereavement co-ordinator encourages people to remember their loved ones. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Margo Archie sings as she plays her rattle along with the drumming of Joseph and Frank. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Margo Archie sings as she plays her rattle along with the drumming of Joseph and Frank. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

The Bridge Creek falls served as a place of healing on Bereavement Day.

Around 15 community members gathered by the falls for a ceremony organized by the 100 Mile District Hospice Palliative Care Society on Thursday, Nov. 3 for a ritual of mourning.

“Sometimes we need a little ritual in our lives. So this, today, is an offering, listening to the sounds of nature, remembering our loved ones,” Sarah Smith, hospice’s bereavement co-ordinator, said.

Singers and drummers from Tsq’escen First Nation (Canim Lake Band) formed the core of the ceremony. Terry Frank and Joseph Archie played drums while Margo Archie followed along with a handmade rattle.

Smith encouraged those gathered to think about their loved ones and listen to the sounds, smell the air and feel the ground underfoot, paying attention to all the senses and feelings in the body.

As the members of the Tsq’escenemc community sang and drummed, people threw rocks inscribed with the names of loved ones in the water, one after the other before drifting back to the meeting spot.

Back in the parking lot, Frank and Joseph sang and played drums.

Smith talked of memories and experiencing them when needed and the value of sharing the feelings with someone special before Joseph thanked the gathering for allowing them to be part of the ceremony.

The traditional songs come from memory and are passed down with Frank learning them from his family members and Joseph learning them from Frank and his brothers.

“These songs have been passed down for generations so these memories are living on,” Joseph said.

Mary Carson Ford and Meryl Thomas are volunteers with Hospice.

When her mother passed away in 2018, Ford said it hit her sisters hard. It was dealing with the aftermath of the family loss that, in part, inspired her to take the Hospice Volunteer training program.

‘I just wanted to learn more about how I can help,” she said.

Thomas has gone through the program four times. Part of the training is looking inside yourself and dealing with your own losses – it gives you a better understanding of other people’s losses, she said.

“We don’t deal very well in our culture with the whole process.”

Smith said you never know when people need help or someone to talk to. She explained we do not have enough opportunities to just stop and feel, which is what makes events such as Bereavement Day so important, mentioning two men who attended the ceremony with their dog.

She said they were at the park when she arrived so she invited them to join the group. One man, who was from Calgary, said he had so much loss and was so grateful, thanking her profusely for letting them take part.



fiona.grisswell@100milefreepress.net

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