Deer Lake -
To Lloyd Hollett, a butterfly has always been more than just an insect.
To Hollett, the butterfly is a messenger. It is a creature that is connected to the spiritual world, one that can bring comfort in times of grief, as a sign that a loved one is happy or in a better place.
Hollett is the founder and director of the Newfoundland Insectarium. He said his beliefs about butterflies have been shaped through stories told to him by visitors, stories of renewed hope and waves of grief broken, all through the presence of an insect. "You hear a few stories, then you hear a few more, and you begin to wonder," said Hollett. "People, a lot of times, they need to know there is something after and seeing a butterfly is enough."
After hearing story after story from visitors, Hollett said he became convinced of the spiritual connection of butterflies, morphed into a believer, after the death of his mother and father who were living in Fort McMurray, Alta.
"Dad passed away and we went out there for that. We came back and 23 days later mom died," said Hollett of the difficult time. "We flew back and we got to the church and when we got there, sitting on the handle of the door, was this beautiful butterfly. To have a butterfly in April, and sitting on the handle of the door - that was all I needed."
Hollett considers his a mild story, but is now collecting the stories of others for a full book of butterfly-inspired spiritual tales.
While he will be kept busy with work at the insectarium over the summer, Hollett said he will be working on the collection during the winter months.
"I already have a publisher asking for it," said Hollett.
"I want to make sure I have all the right stories first."
Hollett will continue searching for stories through the summer. Anyone with a story that includes butterflies in any form that brought reassurance or comfort after a death, are encouraged to contact him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hollett said any standout, inspirational shorts will be given the option of being added to the book.
Some of the stories so far have been "incredibly touching" and include those from the family of politician and businessman Al Best as well as Desma Churchill, mother of Matthew Churchill who died on March 28, 2005 at the age of 15, the victim of a hit and run.