When I worked as a bereavement counselor at a hospice, my job was to call loved ones at their most vulnerable -- in the moments after they lost the person with whom they were the closest.  I treasure sharing these moments with people, when I simply listened and offered as much comfort as a person can to someone who is going through so much pain.

I remember becoming intimately connected on the phone to a stranger dancing with the greatest mystery of life, death. They were trying to make sense out of how the person they loved is no longer there, and yet their toothbrush hasn’t gone anywhere.

There are often complex emotions of feeling relieved that their husband or father or wife or sister was no longer suffering. And yet feeling incredible grief that this person will no longer be able to give you another hug, or squeeze your hand or tell you they love you.

Signs from beyond

It is also the first time many people have an experience of something that they cannot understand. A butterfly that came out of nowhere and lands on their shoulder. A rainbow on a sunny day that suddenly appears in the sky. A phone ringing in the middle of the night. A light flashing on and off for no reason.

I talked to hundreds of people on the phone at hospice, and inevitably each person I talked to by the middle of the third or fourth phone call would say to me, “Don’t think I’m crazy, but the weirdest thing happened. Can I tell you about it?”

A beloved friend of mine was telling me recently about not knowing where to turn when this experience happened to her. A rational-minded person, with a healthy skepticism, she did not know who to talk to, or where to turn to talk about the experiences she was having of feeling her father’s spirit around her. She shyly laughed and looked away saying, “I was looking stuff up on Google…. What does a seeing yellow butterfly mean?”

I am here to tell you that it’s not “crazy.” And yes, you can tell me about it. Because I would be beyond blessed to hear and know the ways that your beloved is reaching out to you from beyond to tell you that they miss you too, and they wish you weren’t suffering. And you should know that they are at peace and want only the best for you.

When someone dies, they leave their body behind but the energy of the love you built together, all the years you had together, that still remains. If you are missing your beloved, light a candle, write them a letter, ask them a question, and I bet you just might hear their answer.