Saying goodbye to a loved one who has passed away is one of the most painful experiences. It’s an emotional journey. And somehow, we do come to grips with the loss we have suffered. Some people seek comfort and peace in traditions, such as paying tribute to the departed’s soul with special releases at funerals.
For example, dove and butterfly releases add a symbolic and memorable touch to honor the memory of the deceased. Watching these birds soar into the sky can create comfort for families and friends because, as the birds fly away, you envision the departed spirit ascending to the new horizon where they will find peace and be free from pain or bondage.
Keep reading to learn more about special releases at funerals.
How do you release doves at a funeral?
When organizing a dove ceremony for the deceased, you may be wondering how to go about it. Dove releases often happen at the end of the graveside service. And while releasing the birds, a close family member usually reads a heartfelt poem. The release can also be accompanied by music. For poem ideas, take a look at our Funeral Readings post.
There are different ways to release doves at a funeral. Let’s start with the solitary dove release. With this release option, one dove waits in an exquisite ornamental cage until your loved one has been laid to rest.
After the funeral service, the dove is handed to one of the family members to open the lid and let the bird take flight from the basket into the sky. Or they can hold the dove and release it from their hands. It is considered a highly personal release, representing a person’s soul departing on a new spiritual journey.
There’s the white dove trinity release. This option involves releasing at least four doves. Three doves, which represent God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit, go first. The fourth one represents the soul of your loved one rising to join the rest into the heavens. A flock of doves can also be released to accompany the first four. The flock represents angels escorting the departed one.
Some families opt for the Flock of Angels release. A dove handler or chosen family member opens the beautiful basket decorated with flowers, letting 3 to 12 doves fly high into the sky. These doves are a symbol of angels guiding the deceased’s spirit to heaven.
You can choose to release 7 white doves, symbolizing the concept of seven archangels who stand in the glorious presence of the Lord. This dove release option is associated with spiritual perfection.
Other families will release doves at a funeral based on the number of close family members or the years the departed lived.
If you are celebrating a veteran, you can release 21 doves into the sky in a triumphant dove salute style. The number represents a 21-gun salute. It’s a respectful way of acknowledging the deceased for putting their lives on the line for our others.
Where do doves go when released at a funeral?
Sometimes you can’t help but wonder if the doves will get lost after release. While the homing instincts of doves are not as strong as that of homing pigeons, doves released at funerals are trained to fly back home safely. They could be dropped off over 600 miles away and still find their way home, traveling at an average speed of about 50 miles per hour.
But you need to keep in mind that doves need to be released in the best conditions possible. Even though doves are known to have impeccable eyesight, they are strictly diurnal, daytime birds. Therefore, it can be challenging for them to navigate back to where they live if it’s near dark or bad weather. As such, the doves should be released when there’s enough visibility.
Not all doves make it home safely, though. That’s because, during a release at a funeral, it’s possible to lose some birds to the hungry hawks or other raptors. The trees around the cemeteries provide safe nesting spots for the birds of prey.
Where can I buy white doves for a funeral?
If you want white doves for a funeral, you should turn to a dove release company near you. You can search online or ask for recommendations from friends or colleagues who may have used the services of a dove release business.
The cost of buying the white doves will vary depending on several factors, such as the number of doves, decorations, and extras needed like flowers, music, and props. Generally, the price of the service is anywhere between $150 and $700. Some dove release companies offer packages with periodic specials, so you might get the best deals if you shop around.
When buying white doves, you’ll want to ensure they are healthy, clean, and well cared for before booking. Consider asking the dove handler to provide photos of their previous dove-release event participation. Also, there’s nothing wrong with paying the company a visit to see the doves and their living conditions.
The dove handlers usually hold the birds in the wicker baskets. They will coordinate and manage the release of the doves for a smooth experience.
What is the meaning of releasing doves at a funeral?
For centuries and in different contexts, doves have been used as a universal symbol of hope, love, peace, purity, and freedom. When it comes to funerals and memorials, the doves symbolize the deepest sense of spirituality.
The act of releasing the doves usually signifies one’s spirit moving to the next realm where one will be at peace and secure, free from the bondage of sickness and difficulties faced in life. It is a way of demonstrating that you’re letting go of your loved one’s physical presence.
It’s worth pointing out that doves are not associated with one religion as many tend to assume. Symbolic meanings can vary across traditions that believe in the existence of afterlife. For example, in Christianity, white doves symbolize the Holy Spirit. In Judaism, it signifies a vibrant life. When it comes to Islam, the doves are seen as a representation of divine intervention and assistance.
Regardless of your religion, you may find comfort in feeling that the person who has left us has moved on to somewhere peaceful.
What is the meaning of releasing butterflies at a funeral?
Releasing butterflies is another touching way for family members to express their final goodbyes. Butterflies have a spiritual and symbolic significance in several native American cultures.
Since all butterflies go through different stages, they are used to signify the transformation the departed person has undergone throughout their lives. And finally, their soul is flying away into the afterlife. The butterfly closely mirrors the process of spiritual rebirth. Rising up to the sky symbolizes freedom and hope for the future.
Many people release butterflies at a funeral because they believe these beautiful insects carry the soul of the departed on its new journey. Having butterflies around the graveside is a sign that the soul of your loved one is present as you say goodbye to them.
You have probably heard about this – If you want your wish to come true, you need to capture a butterfly. Whisper your wishes to the butterfly and release it. It is believed that the butterflies are connected to spiritual world, and they can silently carry your wishes to the creator to fulfil them.
Where can I buy butterflies to release at a funeral?
You can buy different types of colorful butterflies from a butterfly release company to celebrate the life of a loved one. You’ll find different butterfly release packages for your budget and needs. On average, expect to pay around $50 to $150 for a dozen butterflies, exclusive of shipping fees.
When buying butterflies to release at a funeral, keep in mind that not all species are available any time of the year. Therefore, ensure you check for availability early enough, particularly 3 days before the funeral.
After ordering the live butterflies, expect the company to deliver them the day of the funeral or a day before. The butterfly release company can pack butterflies into a single release box for a mass release at the gravesite. Or they can send individual envelopes, each with a butterfly.
You’ll need to keep the boxes in a cool place until the graveside service is over. Also, it’s advisable to release the butterflies when the temperatures are at least 70 degrees. Unlike doves, butterflies don’t return home. They are simply sent to their natural environments, where they can live for the rest of their lives.