Have you ever felt a gust of wind that sounded like the whisper of a voice you once knew? Has a butterfly fluttered in your presence, floating through the air almost as if you have met before? There are many beliefs or “old wives tales”, that say certain objects or occurrences are reminders or gifts from heaven from loved ones who have passed away. Once you have lost a loved one, these thoughts can be a welcome comfort after the grief experienced.
After someone has passed, nature and our surroundings often are seen in a new way. You may notice things that you wouldn’t have previously. If you see a red cardinal, you may remember someone saying that it is a gift delivered by a loved one who has died. It can be a comfort to imagine them saying, “When you think of me, know that I am with you and loving you still.”
The experience of grief ebbs and flows especially as the time from the death gets further away. At the beginning there are regular reminders about how they are missing. There are moments when you grab your phone to tell them about your day, but quickly realize they are no longer there to answer the phone call that you so desperately want to make.
After my grandfather passed away, I wondered about whether or not my kids would remember who he was or would he just be a photo of an unknown family member. Then I started seeing red cardinals. At first it was a rare occasion but soon they seemed to show up at just the right time. They reminded me of the gift they bring. “When you see me, know that I am with you and loving you still.” Once, when loneliness was surrounding me I looked up and saw a red cardinal. Before I knew it a song was running through my head. I was not entirely conscious of what I was singing but soon recognized it as an old hymn that was played at the small midwestern church my grandfather had pastored. In some ways I questioned how I was able to remember the words to this old gospel melody. I also thought, where in the world did it come from? Then I glanced one last time at the cardinal before it flew away. I had a feeling of comfort and immediately knew it was a gift from heaven.
Butterflies and dragonflies that linger. Scents in the air. Feathers floating to the ground. Pennies dropped in your path. Each of these can be a little way to connect with someone who has died. Whether you believe it is an actual visitor from heaven or a simple reminder that the love you shared is always there, it is a comfort. If you stop to look and listen to the little things, the breeze, the butterfly, that bird, you may find that feeling of connection once again with the one who has passed on.