I believe our loved ones send us signs from the other side. I am convinced that I get feathers and pennies from Anita, my parents and from my guardians. How do I know they are signs? They are the ones that appear in places they don’t belong or come when I am thinking of that person or when I need a little extra support. Those, I believe, are signs. The feather I found under a chair in the Barnes and Noble café after one of our From Grief to Peace Meetings? Definitely. The feathers that show up below a bird’s nest or amid other indications of a cat’s guilty feast? Probably not.
There is a fine line between reality and delusion. Some people, in their grief, can become a little too carried away with the spiritual manifestations of their lost one. An odd noise becomes a spirit. A spirit becomes a ghost. And suddenly you are haunted.
My friend Joy gets signs from her John all the time and they are very clearly signs, sometimes very powerful ones. She talks about many of them in her book, I Will Never Leave You as do I in my upcoming book Breathing Again. But what we think are signs may not always be signs. When John was still alive, they lived in a house they were pretty sure was haunted. One night, Joy kept hearing a rhythmical noise somewhere around her dresser. The spirit, she was sure, was trying to communicate with them – until she realized the noise was only her beeper going off and vibrating on the wooden dresser. Spirits are rarely that rhythmical. Sometimes the noise is just a beeper. Sometimes it really is a sign. Listen for the beeper but be open to the times it is more.
This last week at a wedding reception, I started talking with an acquaintance whose husband died almost a year ago. As we talked about him, she told me she often catches glimpses of him out of the corner of her eye but when she looks, nothing is there. How does she know it is him? She can feel his presence every time. Betts has had similar experiences with her Jerry, seeing him just on the edge of vision in Las Vegas, one of their favorite places, having a hibiscus flower twirl, untouched, five times in a bowl of water as she thought of him, having the lid fly off a trash can when Jerry came up in conversation. Those are signs.
So how do you know it is a sign and not delusion or wishful thinking? It may reflect a special song or date or animal that means something just to you or the two of you. Or, it may feel like a little internal hug. Or a little tickle in the brain that says, “Hey, look at this.” Somehow, you really feel that person at that moment, like a quick hello. And it is those quick hellos that keep you going.