Moments of Grace

Originally published in October 2011.

As many grieving people know, keeping a loved one’s memory alive after they die can be a difficult task. There are many images, voices, smells and memories that you want to remember forever, but each day it can become a little bit harder to grasp on to what used to be. I have definitely been struggling with this ever since my mom passed away two years ago this December.

Since my mother’s death was unexpected, I have often worried about feeling disconnected to her or become scared that I’m going to start forgetting the little things about her. Thankfully I have found comfort in small “moments of grace” that reassure me that my mom is still with me throughout each day. These moments have been occurring within my family’s life through the appearance of deer and ladybugs.

Female deer symbolize caring, gentleness, intelligence, watchfulness, and most importantly to me, maternal traits.  Some cultures believe that anyone who sees a deer has seen the animal so that they can look deep into their own heart and find their deepest treasure.  When I was growing up, our yard always attracted deer. They would come to eat my mom’s Hosta plants even after she would try vigorously to cover them and make them seem less appetizing. So when deer started appearing more frequently after my mom died, my family saw it as a comical sign.

The day after she passed away, my aunt and I were in the foyer of my house. As we opened my front door there were six deer standing there, looking in. We knew right away that it had to be a sign from Mom. We felt that she was trying to tell us that even though she was gone, there would always be six people in our family.

The deer made another appearance when I woke up on the morning of what would have been my mom’s 50th birthday and heard our golden retriever barking loudly. When I looked out our side window, I saw four deer in the front yard. I turned to my dad and said, “You know this is a sign right?” He stood there as his eyes welled up, and he responded, “She must have wanted to make sure we were all up in time for mass.” That morning there were four deer, one for each family member that was in the house at the time. Since her death, my family and I have seen many deer, in some very unique places and times. I love seeing them because they remind me that my mother is always watching over us.

It is not only in one of God’s largest animals that I see my mom, but also in one of His smallest creatures. On Christmas Eve, about a week after my mom’s death, my friend Katy was in our church for midnight mass. After lighting a candle in memory of my mom, she felt something small touch her on the face. She thought it was a fly, but her mom told her it was a ladybug. Katy tells me that she knew it had to be a sign. In her head she said, “If it really is you, Mrs. Wilson, please fly by again.” Two seconds later, it did. Because it was in the middle of winter she thought that it was quite an odd and unusual coincidence. But she sincerely felt that the ladybug held a message for us, and afterwards shared her story with my family.

Since then, we have been seeing ladybugs everywhere. No matter the weather, I can find ladybugs sitting on the porch of my townhouse or gathering in the back room of a restaurant. On what would have been my parent’s 20th wedding anniversary, my family and I went to New Hampshire for a vacation. Upon walking into the hotel I noticed a ladybug cartoon on the bulletin board in the lobby. I was also graced with the presence of a ladybug when I was in Jamaica this past January for a service immersion trip. I was having an emotionally draining day working with burn victim children at a local children’s hospital. I was standing in the playground watching the kids play on the swings when I felt something on my hand. When I looked down I saw a ladybug crawling up my arm. I sat there taking in the moment of grace as I watched its short legs move underneath it. Even in another country, my mom knew just how to brighten my day.

After researching this little bug I learned that the name “lady bug” finds its origins in the Middle Ages. The insect was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and called the “beetle of our lady.”  This name links the ladybug to spiritual ideals and religious devotion. It also holds a link to mothers. Because the life cycle of the adult ladybug is short it teaches us how to release worries and enjoy our lives to the fullest. It is often seen as a messenger of promise telling us that we need to release our fears and return to love.

For a grieving family, moments of grace can be the difference between a rainy day or a sunny one. I realize that seeing the deer and ladybugs is difficult because they are constant reminders that my mom is gone, but they also reassure my family that she is with us.

I challenge today’s readers to think about their loved ones and try to recognize ways in which they could be sending you messages: yesterday, today or tomorrow. Finding ways to connect with a loved one even after they passed can be challenging at first, but it can also bring comfort in difficult times. What ways have you found to stay connected?

Special thanks to guest author and HelloGrief community member Colleen Wilson for sharing this piece with us.

12 Comments:

  1. jen said on July 23, 2014 at 11:19 pm ... #

    My best friend passed away 9 months ago. She use to call me lovebug. Ever since she passed, i have been seeing ladybugs everywhere. Not just live ones but stuffedanimals, toys, pictures, everything. A ladybug was inside the car once right after we just got done going ghost hunting. My son and i were sitting on the couch and a ladybug was crawling on his laptop and remained there for hours.what really amazes me is, my best friend and i had an inside joke about bees. I see combinations of ladybugs and bees beside each other all the time. Even on vacation,in a claw machine a bee and ladybug were side by side looking outward. I just smile and now she is with me.

  2. rhonda said on August 16, 2014 at 8:41 pm ... #

    I have had a red cardinal peck at my windows for the last three months.When i respond to him he breaks out in song,i told my husband that is so odd he sings at my back door til i greet him,two days ago my mother passed away i knew she was older but i was not prepared.Over the yrs we have given each other gifts Bird gifts.her sister who passed away before her said When you see a meadowlark think of me.I am wondering if this bird is one of my loved ones who came to comfort me in time of need.thank you

  3. Kimberly said on October 26, 2014 at 11:04 pm ... #

    For my best friend and I our fathers have always visited us as double rainbows. My dad passed away 2 years ago and that entire weekend that he was admitted to hospice and “dying” I saw double rainbow after double rainbow, tons in 1 weekend! Then after he died on Sunday September 23rd at 8:07 am a double rsinbow appeared again. This July On my wedding eve it stormed on our boat cruise and as we pulled into the harbor the clouds cleared and 2 gorgeous bright rainbows and sun appeared. He wanted me to know he was with us. Pretty amazing and it happens all the time, even when the weather is cloudy and raining they’ll appear. Miss my daddy but it’s these signs that make me cry happy tears

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  5. Michelle said on October 30, 2014 at 4:00 pm ... #

    It’s interesting to read your experience with the deer and I feel like I have experienced many signs in the last month. My husband unexpectedly passed on 9/27 but the next day and several days since a buck has appeared in the back yard of our house. The first night I was out on the deck where my husband enjoyed many hours watching the wild life that lives on our property and the buck appeared out of no where and just starred at me for an unusually long time so I waved. He’s been back other times when friends visit and when I’ve had work done of the house. I hadn’t seen the reference to the Native American symbol but thanks for posting as it’s so true to who he was. We also have a crow that makes lots of noise when I’m doing things that he might not agree with how I am doing them. He used to mock the crow so I find it funny when I hear the crow “complaining”. And, finally we recently had a red fox hanging around which makes me think about the one we saw in the Grand Tetons a couple of months ago. I take great comfort in all of these signs.

  6. Bridget said on November 19, 2014 at 3:42 pm ... #

    When my mum was being lowered into the grave, there was a deer standing watching on.

  7. Diana said on November 26, 2014 at 8:14 pm ... #

    My aunties neighbour recently passed, and whilst I was viewing her property I saw 5 identical butterflies in her bedroom. Is this a sign ?

  8. sylvie said on December 13, 2014 at 11:47 am ... #

    Thanks for sharing. The day my mom passed away there was a drape of crow that flew close to her windoe. We knew it was time. I had a conversation with her while she was in a coma and told her i would look for rainbow and would know she is around. The first year i saw in different ways rainbows and i could feel her. I even had one during a very cold winter day the rainbow was clear i knew this was for me. I miss her daily but whenever i get some type of sign it sure makes my day.

  9. Teri said on December 30, 2014 at 10:52 pm ... #

    I lost my best friend and soulmate suddenly on 12/14/14 and am still trying to deal with it. I was not with him when it happened and when I got the call I left immediately to our house. Just as I was getting to town I had to stop at a 4 way stop and watched a car pull up across from me. The other car had the right of way and started across the intersection and my heart skipped a beat. It was our car, right down to the rust, EZ pass and all, and the man who was driving was my Dan. In slow motion the car went right past me while I starred out the window directly at him, and he starring at me. My daughter was stunned at what she saw. He was smiling and I know he was telling me he was ok and off on a new adventure. When we pulled into the driveway our car was sitting there and my daughter and I just looked at each other…only 3 minutes before that very car was driving by me and my Dan was trying to comfort me in my grief. My step daughter has also had a couple of signs of shot glasses appearing, which was something her dad loved to collect. I know Dan is with us and watching over us all and I will join him one day. For now he’s planning our next adventure, only one of many we will have together in heaven. Signs are all around us of our loved ones being with us…I for one will continue to be open for any sign from Dan.

  10. Karen said on January 22, 2015 at 11:40 am ... #

    My mom passed 2014 she had her 91birthday in February but she always wanted cremation as far back as I can remember it’s still not real she’s gone .but on our moms day we had white horses an carrage for her wanted mom to be a qween as she was such a lovely lady an a grate mom .so we got mom cremated and sleight after coming out the service three ov us me and my to sons wer crying I had my head down on my sons shoulder and it was a grey dull day and chillie for 3secons ther was a lovely warm feeling came though our feet right though all ours body’s and went must ov been mom cuz it happend that fast .hope it was me mom I miss her so much it’s just not the same with out my mom

  11. Angie said on April 20, 2015 at 7:01 pm ... #

    Hi my husband passed away last May, three weeks after my husband died my little Grandson died, four months after that my Brother died, it was a very sad awful year, my husbands presence I feel quite often especially in the car, we spent a lot of time traveling in our car, one day I was driving and my car radio volume started turning up and down by its self, I could see it changing from 7 upto 8 and back intermittently, I also felt a warm feeling on the side of my face and then down my neck, I freaked out a little and pulled the car over in the layby, something me ask is that you pooh bear, that was my nickname for my husband, the radio volume changed from 7 upto 8 and back again, I asked a few more times and the same thing happened, again I felt the warm feeling on my face and down my neck, my husband used to stroke my face and neck when we would be travelling, that is exactly what it felt like, I asked if that is really you touch my face again, and again the warm feeling came down my face to my neck. This has happened several times always when I’m driving I do believe my husband is with me at these times, it’s a lovely feeling to know the person you lost is still with you really.

    Angie

  12. Angie said on April 20, 2015 at 7:08 pm ... #

    Hi my husband passed away last May, three weeks after my husband died my little Grandson died, four months after that my Brother died, it was a very sad awful year, my husbands presence I feel quite often especially in the car, we spent a lot of time traveling in our car, one day I was driving and my car radio volume started turning up and down by its self, I could see it changing from 7 upto 8 and back intermittently, I also felt a warm feeling on the side of my face and then down my neck, I freaked out a little and pulled the car over in the layby, something me ask is that you pooh bear, that was my nickname for my husband, the radio volume changed from 7 upto 8 and back again, I asked a few more times and the same thing happened, again I felt the warm feeling on my face and down my neck, my husband used to stroke my face and neck when we would be travelling, that is exactly what it felt like, I asked if that is really you touch my face again, and again the warm feeling came down my face to my neck. This has happened several times always when I’m driving I do believe my husband is with me at these times, it’s a lovely feeling to know the person you lost is still with you really.
    There are times I dream about things we’ve done and places we’ve been I wake up and I can feel him there with me in the room.

    Angie

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