On Saturday, June 5, Gunnison Valley Health Hospice will host the first
annual Celebration of Life. The memorial celebration will take place from
10:00 to 11:30 a.m. at West Tomichi Riverway Park in Gunnison and include
a light brunch, music and the release of lotus flowers in honor of those
we have lost.
Gunnison Valley Health’s Bereavement Coordinator Dawn Stewart said
the celebration is an opportunity for families to find closure, reconnect
with Hospice staff and spend time with others.
“The experience of being with a loved one during the end of their
life is often overwhelming,” Stewart said. “There is often
lots of activity, equipment and people, and there is little time to process
the experience. The Celebration of Life is an opportunity to honor our
loved ones while spending time with fellow travelers who have been on
a similar journey.”
Historically, the Hospice staff have hosted the Tree of Life event during
the Christmas season, a long standing tradition that was halted due to
the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gunnison Valley Health Hospice Director Pamela Brunsell said that the pandemic
changed everything for people and has been a catalyst for many different
kinds of change, including this one.
“COVID brought extra layers of grief, loss and isolation to people.
It has changed everything for all of us, it left scars,” Brunsell
said. “The pandemic has forced us to reevaluate many things and,
in this instance, is giving us the opportunity to come together and celebrate
our loved ones in a way that wouldn’t have been possible during
the winter event. We treasure our history and memories of past events
and believe that this change will honor the Tree of Life tradition while
meeting our current needs.”
The Celebration of Life heavily features the lotus flower – the symbolism
of which was an intentional choice and perfectly reflects our current
journey through the pandemic.
“Lotus flowers symbolize transition and change,” Stewart said.
“They grow in dark places reaching to the light, the same way that
we, as a community, have grown through the pandemic towards hope.”
For those wishing to attend, space is limited and guests are asked to RSVP
in advance. The community is invited to reserve a lotus flower in honor
of someone special even if they are unable to attend the event in person.
You can reserve a lotus flower and RSVP by visiting