Summer, 2016  Newsletter

Hello Barbara,   

This summer has been a BLUR – apologies for doing a summer rather than monthly newsletter – but I have a good excuse!   My son got married (I hosted the wedding)… then we moved for the summer… then ABJ hosted a big photo shoot at a national grief conference across the country… then my husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary! 

You get it… right??? … Thanks for understanding…  have LOTS to tell you! 

Looking back over this summer so far, it reminds me that we need to take time to CELEBRATE!  Sometimes in our grief, we need a reminder to celebrate the wonderful things in our lives, including our memories with our loved ones. 

I have been blessed with much to celebrate lately.  First, having lost 3 children, remaining son Brad, got married to a wonderful woman, the love of his life.  Both families get along great and we worked like a team to host it in a tent on the beach in back of my home, then we sent the kids on a great honeymoon.  It was perfect!  We celebrated all weekend from the rehearsal & rehearsal dinner to the wedding & post-wedding brunch…  perfect weather, and so much fun! 


A few days later, we moved for the summer and I celebrated getting all unpacked & setup before I left for a great opportunity to do an ABJ Choose-to-Heal photo shoot at The Compassionate Friends national conference in Arizona.  I celebrated the opportunity and how well it was received!  I am stil in the process of loading all the photos we took in our our ABJ Photo Gallery and emailin them to the participants.   We even included a couple service dogs… here’s one. 


My 2nd husband, Jim and I had a lovely 10th anniversary week – here we are at a Boston concert.  We met online after the grief of losing children was a catalyst in ending my 1st 30-year marriage.  He has 3 great adult children who are now my step-children in our blended family.  You CAN be happy again, I am  … and 10 years married is worth celebration!


And now we get to celebrate all the USA Olympic athletes winning medals in the Summer Olympics!  

 Wishing you MANY celebrations…

Supporting your journey to a New Normal,   


 President & Executive Director, A Butterfly’s Journey

PS. Please forward this newsletter or the ABJ site to help others.  A complimentary 30-minute healing chat with me may also be scheduled HERE.


Celebrate The JOY In Your Life!

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After loss, do you look for JOY? 

Do you celebrate the joyous occasions in your life? 

Joy and Grief are intertwined, let the ‘joy’ parts heal you…

I had an extremely joyous occasion in my life recently – my only remaining son married the love of his life last weekend.  I could have focused on the fact that his older brother, who would have been his best man, was not there in person.  I could have focused on his younger brother not being there either.  I could have focused on the gap between his father and me (our 30-year marriage ended after his older brother died). No!  

Instead, I focused on the JOY, on how much I love my son and wanted him to have a PERFECT wedding.  I focused on how much I love the woman he married, and how well we get along with her family. 

Photo Jun 17, 4 12 51 PMThis was one of the brightest spots in my life so far!  The couple got married on the ocean beach behind my home in a huge tent, under a full moon. We were all barefoot and dancing in the sand.  We had a lovely rehearsal dinner the night before, a wonderful brunch the morning after and we cherished the time with the happy couple.  The bride said it was just like she had envisioned it and my son was glowing.  That made all the work and expense worth it!   Both families worked together on this big successful project! 

MMC sunset RD IMG_3672

There was the most incredible sunset, then a rainbow over the tent after the Rehearsal dinner! It was so unusual, it felt like a sign.  My neighbor texted me this picture as she was so amazed and thought it looked like an angel cloud.  

During the week before, there were two dragonflies, a few butterflies and some Mourning doves which I never see around my house — but they were buzzing my back deck repeatedly… who knows?  It felt nice!  


The couple honored our deceased loved ones with a beautiful memory table and candle. That was lovely, and I could feel that my son’s brothers and grandparents were there in spirit. I’m guessing her relatives were too.

Then I helped to send the newlyweds off on a trip-of-a-lifetime honeymoon, and they were so excited, happy and grateful as they called from their first stop the next day.  It made my heart sing!  I am so thrilled for them and seeing how in love they are.  We felt they deserved the best start we could give them.

I may have gone more overboard that I might have it my other sons had been alive.  I am more protective and indulgent of my remaining son, and why not?

 When you’ve endured great loss, you have two choices – focus on the loss, or become stronger, smarter and focus on the joy that remains in your life.

I choose the latter – I choose to heal and I choose the joy.  I am very blessed to have wonderful relationships with my son, his wife and her family, my second husband and our blended family, and my extended family.  We had loss but our family is growing now, and it’s lovely.  The more the merrier!

Look around, understand how strong loss can make you and how smart.  You become very clear on what is important in life and what is not.

Look for the joy in your life and savor it.  Let it heal you.


Other ABJ written Blogs this summer:  (video blogs below) 




What’s ABJ up to ???


  •  What we were up to in SUMMER 2016:
  • Held 50/50 Raffle fundraiser at the Plum Island Beachcoma (June & July) 
  • see the photos as we load them into ABJ Photo Gallery!Held a “Choose-to-Heal” photo shoot at The Compassiaonte Friendsnational conference (Wings of Love”) in Scottsdale, AZ in July
  • Continued work as a co-author and contributor on “Grief Diaries
    • Co-authoring “Will We Survive?” …coming out in October
    • Contributed to “Newly Bereaved…. Now What?”
  • Hosted my son’s wedding & celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary :-)


Coming FALL 2016: 

  • Hope, Healing & Health Bereavement Cruise – Sept 15-18 
    • affordable, includes workshops, candlelight walk & photo shoot
  • Fall “Hike to Heal” with Brandy Sales in October
  • Planned Boston radio station interview
  • Planning retreats & speaking events in New England 
  • More “Grief Diaries” contributions & books released
  • Crowdfunding campaign research & selection, grant applications


Two this time – both related to helping grievers through media: 


1)  HOPE Documentary 

A documentary that tells inspiring stories of people moving through their grief and embracing life … by Bobby & Sara Sheehan of 

How YOU can HELP! 


 2)  ABJ Photo Gallery

An ABJ social short video on “Photography in Healing” 

In our ABJ Photo Gallery, we post the “Choose-to-Heal” photos we take at our events and others’ group events.  These motion-evoking photos are both cathartic for the griever and help us raise awareness while we encourage open discussion on the difficult topic of grief. 

Acute grievers are photographed expressing a phrase that is meaningful to them, as part of their commitment to “Choose To Heal” and find a “New Normal.”  

“No Blame, No Shame… Just Love” 

Please contact us if you would like to participate, host or sponsor a photo shoot or include a photo shoot in your organization’s event. 

 Our Story 

A Butterfly’s Journey (ABJ) has a mission to help individuals and families struggling with grief after the loss of a child, or other early loss, to find hope and a new normal. We do that through events, grief recovery classes, a comprehensive online Resource Center, and our photo shoots to allow grievers to express themselves simply, visually and emotionally to spark discussion. We also provide assistance to other organizations through education and resources. 

Barbara J Hopkinson, ABJ Founder, President & Executive Director has lost 3 children and led bereaved families through the journey of grief for more than 12 years.  She founded and leads a chapter of The Compassionate Friends, as well as A Butterfly’s Journey To A New Normal. She is certified Grief Recovery Specialist and author of two books “A Butterfly’s Journey” & “FAITH – Vol.II”


For more information, visit the
 ABJ web site

Contact Barbara at 
617-410-6309  or for a complimentary 30-minute conversation or schedule it now HERE.   

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Barbara Hopkinson PO Box 872 Newburyport, Massachusetts 01950 United States (617) 410-6309

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