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—Dr. Sam Smith is the organizer of Butterfly Ministries and can be reached at ssmithkate@aol.com.

“The butterfly has long symbolized a renewal of life. The caterpillar signifies life here on earth; the cocoon signifies death; and the butterfly signifies the emergence of the dead into a new, beautiful and more liberated existence. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross movingly tells of seeing butterflies drawn all over the walls of the children’s dormitories in the concentration camps. Since children are intuitive, she concludes that these children knew their fate and were leaving a message.” The Compassionate Friends [TCF], a world wide grief support group for families that have lost a child, adopted the butterfly as a symbol of hope that our children are living in Heaven with perfect beauty and freedom. That is a most comforting thought to many of us.

On a personal level, the butterfly has had special meaning to me for many years. My daughter, Stacey died at 16 in 1988. Several years later, when my daughter, Kathryn, was about 5, I wrote a song I titled “Master’s Butterfly.” I was talking to Kathryn one day about Stacey, about life and death, and about the way the butterfly symbolizes new life. Years earlier I had seen this phrase, “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly.” As I talked to Kathryn about butterflies and that enlightening phrase, the idea for the song came to me.

I was performing quite a bit at the time, and I began to sing the song at various venues. It became a popular request with audiences. I then began a music ministry in honor of Stacey that I called The Butterfly Ministry, and I recorded a CD of 11 original songs. I used “Master’s Butterfly” for the title cut.

A TCF chapter had just been formed in Tyler, Texas, about 30 miles from our home in Jacksonville. Someone with the group had heard “Master’s Butterfly” and asked me to sing at their first candle lighting service. I had never heard of The Compassionate Friends. I was happy to hear about this group and thrilled to get to sing for them. Imagine my joy when I discovered that the symbol for TCF was the butterfly. I had no doubt that the Lord has brought us together.

That was the year 2,000. I sang for the candle lighting service, and later the annual Butterfly Release for many years. My relationship with the wonderful people of TCF has inspired me to write many other songs about dealing with the loss of a child, including the inspiration and healing power of butterflies. The comfort and peace I have found through this group has been immeasurable, and I praise God for leading me to them.

I stay on the lookout for butterflies, for every time I see one it renews my faith and reminds me that my daughter is in heaven. I know I will see her again. I am a Christian, and I equate the death, burial and resurrection of Christ to the metamorphosis of the caterpillar to a butterfly. The caterpillar represents earthly life. The cocoon represents the tomb. The butterfly symbolizes Christ’s resurrected body. Death – resurrection — new life is the promise for all believers. My prayer for all who have lost a child [or any loved one] is that they will find peace in knowing that their loved one is a new creature in paradise, waiting for all that know Jesus to join them there.

Every time that I see another butterfly

My spirit is reminded that in Christ we never die

That delicate little creature, so lovely and so free

Is our Father’s say of saying, “That is how we are to be”

And I know we are His butterflies

Always know you are His butterfly.

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— Dr. Sam Smith is the organizer of Butterfly Ministries and can be reached at ssmithkate@aol.com.