SURREY — Remembrance Day has a special meaning for Surrey school principal Lisa Jamieson. Two years ago, on Nov. 11, her father, Tom Blinkhorn, died at age 80.
“There is no timeline to grief,” said Jamieson, who joined other mourners Sunday for a memorial dove release at Bear Creek Park in Surrey.
Although her dad had lived a long and fulfilling life, said Jamieson, the grief is real. “It doesn’t matter what age a person passes away, it still leaves behind a loss.”
What drew her to participate in the event was the symbolic nature of the dove — peace — and the gesture of release.
“It’s me letting my dad know that he is still remembered. I will never forget the impact of the person he was.”
Rebecca Smith, executive director of Surrey Hospice Society, said the dove release is an annual event for anyone who wants to remember a loved one.
“It’s a memorial and an acknowledgment of release of pain. There is a connection between a person and the dove,” said Smith.
The society provides support in the community, in homes and in palliative-care units.
“We support people who are facing end-of-life through a terminal illness, we are companions for people so no one is ever alone when they die or in their grief.”
Jamieson received support from the society during the later stages of her father’s fight with dementia, and afterward. Jamieson said she was so closely involved with her dad’s care that she didn’t have time to deal with the emotions she was feeling. “You’re so involved in the day-to-day care and then suddenly they’re gone and you are left to process this on your own.”
Just the other day, says Jamieson, she was driving past a funeral home and she suddenly burst into tears. “The hospice understands that it’s OK to grieve,” said Jamieson.
The birds used in the release are trained homing doves, comfortable with humans, and able to find their way back to their trainer after their release. The dove release is an annual event and helps to raise funds for the non-profit society. Participants are asked to make a $50 donation to the Surrey Hospice Society. The society has a team of trained staff and over 90 volunteers offering respite and support to families in need.
“No one every fully recovers from a loss, you just learn to deal with it,” said Jamieson, who was especially moved that the ceremony took place so close to Remembrance Day. “My dad was a school principal, and he placed a great value on the day. He always made sure every Remembrance Day was a day of respect.”