Ask any parent what they most fear, and the majority will confess that it is losing a child.
The death of a child or other close family member ranks as one of the top five worst stressors in life, according to the Holmes-Rahe Social Readjustment Rating Scale.
Although Newburyport resident Barbara Hopkinson has endured the devastating losses of three children — one through a miscarriage, one son who was stillborn and another son in a crash — her recently released memoir is a story of profound hope.
This Sunday, at her book launch at The Actors Studio in Newburyport, she will talk about her journey from devastation to happiness.
Hopkinson recently self-published “A Butterfly’s Journey: Healing Grief After the Loss of a Child.” The book, which took Hopkinson five years to complete, is intended as a road map for all readers, no matter the details of their personal losses, for moving from grief to healing.
In 2002, Hopkinson received a phone call informing her that her 21-year-old son, Brent, had been in a sudden and severe motorcycle accident.
Her book is a ruthlessly honest account of the details of her son’s death, wake, funeral and her grieving process. Along the way, Hopkinson’s 30-year marriage ends, she changes careers, her other son flunks out of college, and, at age 51, she is forced to live alone for the first time. Her grief also led her to start The Compassionate Friends of Greater Newburyport, a local chapter of a support group for bereaved parents.
Guided by her strong love for her son, Hopkinson began to explore the “spiritual” realm. Through practicing meditation and forming friendships with sensitive intuitives, spiritual guides and mediums, Hopkinson said she received the comforting news that her son was happy.
“I never gave (the spirit) much thought before my son died,” she said in an interview. “But once I started reading about it, I felt in my gut that this is all a natural progression, as their journey, and you may not like it, but there are reasons that you don’t know.”