Being an executive for a large corporation, Barbara Hopkinson, was asked to travel the world. On one trip to Hong Kong, she asked one of her hosts why the building had holes in them. He responded that the holes were there to let the Chi, or energy force, flow through the building. That sounded like a lot of hooey to Barbara back then, but not today. Today Barbara meditates and incorporates many spiritual modalities into her work. That’s a big change for a corporate executive. Let’s explore Barbara’s journey.
In 2002, Barbara was in a meeting at a client site in New Jersey when the conference room phone rang. The client picked it up said it was for her. Thinking this was strange, Barbara took the phone and said “Hello?” It was a colleague who said her husband needed her to call him ASAP. He didn’t have any details, but he knew it had to do with her son Brent who was attending college at Arizona State University. Shaking, she dialed her husband’s cell phone. He and their other son Brad were on a plane flying from Boston to Newark to meet her. Brent was in a motorcycle accident and they were told to get to Arizona as soon as they could. When they arrived the neurosurgeon told them there was nothing they could do. Three weeks earlier the family was all in Las Vegas celebrating Brent’s twenty-first birthday discussing his future and now he was gone.
Quickly Barbara realized that people handle grief differently. Especially grief as related to the death of a child. It really defies the laws of nature. A child is not supposed to predecease their parent. But it happened to Barbara and it was tearing her life apart. Brent’s death brought back the pain of the death of her other son, Robbie, who was stillborn as well as an earlier miscarriage. The pain of grief also brought to light the condition of her marriage and soon after Brent’s death, Barbara had to contend with the end of her thirty-year marriage.
The story could end here. The story could be of a woman who had all the reason in the world to be bitter and depressed, but Barbara is an action-orientated person. She wanted to talk to other grieving parents. She wanted to find the answers to deal with what she was going through. Barbara found a resource in a group called The Compassionate Friends, an international organization whose mission is to support families after the loss of a child. The nearest chapter was a bit of a drive for Barbara, so she decided to found a chapter in her hometown of Newburyport, MA.
As Barbara started to work with more and more families she realized that helping them through the grieving process was healing her and her heart. She began to explore what once she thought was strange. She began working with mediums and meditating and knew it was time to tell her story. In 2013, Barbara’s book A Butterfly’s Journey… Healing Grief After the Loss of a Child was published. The book chronicles her journey from the initial phone call, through her own experience with the grieving process and the lessons she has learned. What makes this book special is the underlying theme of the importance of love. Barbara learned that love is the key and teaches grieving parents to focus on the love rather than the pain. Barbara has also released two songs channeled from Brent to her friend and musician Nancy Day. This is coming from a woman who years ago thought the concept of Chi was a little nutty.
Barbara is now in the process of making A Butterfly’s Journey into a non-profit with the hopes of being able to raise funds to extend her reach to grieving parents everywhere. Her latest book, FAITH (Finding Answers In The Heart) will be released this April.
To learn more about Barbara and her work, visit her on her website, www.abutterflysjourney.com
1. How do you stay focused and motivated?
Through spiritual practices like meditation, reading, and various forms of connection with my deceased children, whom I do this in memory of and for.
2. How do you deal with naysayers?
Through confidence in my beliefs, and evidence-based signs – from personal experience and those I trust. Also, I don’t feel the need for approval. I am working on a book of such credible signs to provide hope to bereaved families.
3. How do you blur the lines between work and play?
By being passionate about my work, enjoying the people I work with, and having fun during work activities. Also by taking breaks and doing what I love – travel, photography and cooking, which I incorporate into my work whenever possible.