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East County Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019 2 weeks ago

Tidewell Hospice grief program spreads its wings in Lakewood Ranch

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Tidewell Hospice finds a new home for its Blue Butterfly grief program.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

After the death of her sister, Pauline Rojas, in May 2018 at just 36 years old, Lakewood Ranch’s Liza Rojas did her best to deal with her personal grief.

She also worried how her daughter, Summayah Munoz, and Pauline’s children — Nelliana, Nick and Natalie Morrels — were handling the loss. The families had lived next door to each other for nearly a decade.

Liza Rojas knew she needed support and enrolled Summayah and Nelliana in Tidewell Hospice’s Blue Butterfly program, which provides free group counseling to children who have lost a loved one. Nelliana seemed to be handling the loss OK, but Rojas soon learned that those looks were deceiving.

During a grief session, the children painted masks. The outside represented how they showed themselves to the world, and the inside was how they actually felt.

Nelliana’s outside face was rainbow and sunshine, but the inside was black and red.

“I didn’t realize she was so hurt and angry,” Rojas said. “It was a gateway to understand what was going on.”

Rojas said the program has helped Summayah and Nelliana deal with their emotions and has also given her insight on how to best support them and talk about Pauline’s death. Meanwhile, Nick and Natalie Morrels preferred one-on-one grief counseling.

Now, Rojas is excited about Blue Butterfly’s new home at 6800 Professional Parkway W., in the Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park. Tidewell Hospice officials, supporters and program participants celebrated its grand opening with tours and a special ribbon-cutting and butterfly release Nov. 13.

Since its inception in April 2018, it has been housed at New Gate Montessori School in Lakewood Ranch at no charge.

Timothy Wolfrum, Tidewell’s director of communications, said Tidewell decided to find its own building because it is ready to expand programming. Currently, Blue Butterfly serves 70 families — including 110 children — with group sessions four times per month. One group meets every other Tuesday, and the other meets every other Wednesday.

Danielle Visone, the family grief program specialist who oversees the Blue Butterfly program for Tidewell, said she hopes to add more nights of counseling for families. She also would like to expand to offer grief counseling for children ages 3 to 5 and for young adults (college age) who are dealing with a loss. 

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