Kirkus Review


  October 2013



Healing Grief After the Loss of a Child

by Barbara J. Hopkinson

“A brave, candid memoir that earnestly seeks to help readers who have also suffered loss.”

Part memoir, part self-help treatise, Hopkinson’s debut book chronicles her son’s death and the grief that nearly destroyed her own life.

Hopkinson’s memoir begins when her 21-year-old son, Brent, was killed in a motorcycle accident on the campus of his Arizona university. He had borrowed a friend’s bike, although he wasn’t trained to ride it. At a stop sign, the bike stalled and Brent accelerated to keep it in gear, unintentionally catapulting himself forward and hitting a wall behind the school’s library. Hopkinson tells the story in vivid, excruciating detail, revisiting her son’s death and the stages of mourning that gripped her in its aftermath. She opens a window into her emotional life, from the phone call in which she learns of the accident to her trip to Arizona, the decision to take him off life support, and then then the return trip to her Massachusetts home to plan his funeral. After the initial shock of Brent’s death, Hopkinson’s depression deepened. Her marriage of 30 years dissolved; she contemplated suicide. She finally found solace in what she calls spirituality, which for her involves meditating daily and seeking mediums to communicate with Brent and assure her that his spirit is still with her…

In her introduction, Hopkinson details Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. At the end of each chapter, she includes a “reflection” that explains the stages she went through and reads like a workbook in managing grief… In mining her own suffering, though, she provides hope for other grieving parents.

A brave, candid memoir that earnestly seeks to help readers who have also suffered loss.

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Judges Commentary:
            A Butterfly’s Journey… Healing Grief After the Loss of a Child 

This is a sensitive, well written book. The author has good storytelling skills and weaves action and dialogue to guide readers into the scenes of her journey. She does a good job of using the senses to engage the reader.

 I like the way she tells each person’s story instead of summarizing the whole thing. The author does a good job of building suspense through the part about rushing to and through the airport, encountering several obstacles. The author also describes what things felt like using physical description like nausea instead of global adjectives like afraid. It is skillful writing technique.

 The cover is very nice and so is the choice of stock… (and) I like the reflections sections…

 More than a story of loss and grief, this book also gives readers ways to cope with their own losses. Such readers will easily relate to this author’s story. The resources at the end of the book are helpful to have included. I also like the personal poetry and the end.

Judge, Writer’s Digest 21st Annual Self-Published Book Awards

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