Dove release in Surrey: ‘Cathartic experience’ for mom grieving son’s death

Surrey Hospice Society hosts annual event at Bear Creek Park in November

Surrey Hospice Society’s annual Dove Release Memorial Service can help people heal from grief, whether their loss was recent or long ago.

So remembers Rhayne, a mononymous, Surrey-based musician and singing teacher who, for the first time, performed at the fundraising event last fall.

Many participants attend yearly to release a dove in honour of a loved one.

This year, Rhayne and the Capellas will return to perform at the service, set for Sunday, Nov. 5 at Bear Creek Park Pavilion, from 9 to 11 a.m.

“I didn’t know what a dove-release ceremony was at first,” Rhayne noted, “until I was asked to sing for it last year, by a compassionate lady named Tricia (Keith), who works for Surrey Hospice Society (as co-ordinator of volunteers).”

• READ MORE: Loved ones remembered in Surrey dove release, from 2016.

A donation of $50 allows participants to reserve a dove, with requests due by Friday, Oct. 27 via phone (604-584-7006) or email (

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In a statement, Rhayne described her experience at the dove-release ceremony.

“If you choose to participate in this aspect of the ceremony, the name of your loved one is spoken aloud, then you let go of a beautiful white dove, that the handlers gently placed in your hands. You watch in awe, as the dove ascends to the sky, safely making its way back home. What a cathartic experience this symbolic action is. I asked my mom to join me in this ceremony, and we released the dove together, as we both needed to let go of grief.

“Keeping cherished memories is important and so needed,” Rhayne continued, “yet letting go of grief can be a challenge for us all. It was for me, as my amazing and beloved son, lost his battle with a mental illness that developed when he was in his mid-teens, despite all our efforts. It was difficult for my mother as well, as he was also a wonderful grandson.”

• READ MORE: Sing in spring with Rhayne, or listen in with some Sweet Adelines, from April 2017.

Surrey Hospice Society helps people access end-of-life care in the city. The organization’s volunteers work in the community, at Laurel Place Residential Hospice and in the tertiary palliative-care unit at Surrey Memorial Hospital.

“In addition to the supports and services we offer those facing end-of-life, we also provide respite, support and grief counselling to their friends, family and loved ones,” reads a post at “Our support is on-going and far-reaching. We provide companions for the journey.”

Rhayne teaches “Love to Sing” classes at Surrey Arts Centre.

“When I was asked to sing with my singing students last year (at the dove-release ceremony), Tricia from the Surrey Hospice Society did not know about my loss, nor did many others, as it was hard to talk about at times,” stated Rhayne, whose son Luke died 10 years ago.

“Even when I felt the occasional need to share this with others, I hesitated, as you don’t always know how people will respond. However, this approach can leave one feeling isolated.

“Not long after I participated in the (ceremony), I felt the weight of grief slowly begin to lift. Talking about the loss of my son, when appropriate, made it a bit easier for me to deal with. Advocating and helping others, was also helpful.

“An amazing thing I noticed during the (ceremony), which is for everyone no matter what your belief, was how the sound of our many voices singing, seemed to ease the grief of many who attended the ceremony. I witnessed how the sound transcended pain and lifted people’s spirits. It was beautiful, real, and heartfelt.”

Also in November, Surrey Hospice Society is hosting a “Shell Busey Birthday Roast & Toast,” to mark the local home-improvement broadcaster’s 75th birthday. The event will be held at Mirage Banquet Hall on Saturday, Nov. 25. For details and tickets ($99), visit or call 604-584-7006.

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Surrey-based musician Rhayne.

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