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Butterflies, Turtles, God-Winks, and HOPE


After my son died I thought I saw him coming toward me but it was his best friend dressed in similar work clothes so I didn’t give it a second thought. Months later I was in a store when I distinctly heard him call me, “Dad, Dad.” It was his voice when he was younger. Moments later his and his girlfriend’s favorite song played over the loud speaker. Filled with emotion and more so with his presence, I left the rest of my family in the store to retreat to my car, overwhelmed.

When a relative or close friend dies there are often occurrences that make us pay attention. Could they be sending a message from the grave?  Is this their way of comforting us? Maybe God is trying to teach us a lesson?

Now I pay attention to when others tell me about unusual occurrences they have after a child or parent has passed. Relatives have told me about seeing their father near his grave site. Seeing the departed seems to be a fairly regular vision particularly for those who were distraught due to the death of someone close.

Dreams are another popular experience. Generally, the dreams are of a happy time when the person was healthy and part of the family, involved in normal day to day activities. Few will have nightmares. But for most, the nightmare is waking up and realizing it was just a dream and they are still dead. Waking up hurts.

Nature provides us with other special occurrences. Butterflies symbolize messengers and are seen at opportune times, landing in special places or coming to us when we are feeling especially close to the one we love. There are some cultures that believe owls have a way of communicating with the dead and most people have heard about black birds symbolizing death. Animals and pets seem to act differently at times making us feel as if they sense something we cannot.

Finding a dime for many of us signifies that our loved one is still with us. Dimes show up in the most unusual places and times. With our grief, the dead are not dead and are close to our conscious life. Seeing a reminder such as a dime makes them alive again if only for a moment and brings a mixed sense of real peace matched with the emptiness of loss that we feel in our chest, our heart, and breath.

Of all the signs, feeling a “presence” is the most powerful and universal of experiences. They meant so much to us and in death they mean even more. Children, parents, or spouses that we were not aware of on a moment to moment basis are now in our waking consciousness so much so that all it takes is a color, a smell, or a cord to bring them back. We don’t need actual reminders when there are so many similar ones to keep them alive.

Yet reminders of a special toy, t-shirt, piece of jewelry or eye glasses fill us with hope that someday we will see them again. These are what psychologists call “transitional objects” that fill some of the void left by those now gone. Butterflies, pets, dimes, and special objects that inexplicably move, serve the purpose of letting us know that those missed are not far away. They are still very close to our heart.

I used to worry about people who told me about seeing the dead or hearing them call their name. I was skeptical about “God-winks” when the probability of coincidence cannot explain the likelihood of a contact of some sort. There will always be the unknown and the unexplainable but if we limit ourselves to the known then we limit ourselves and to God working in our life.

No one has the answers to these occurrences. Not Spirit Mediums, not Ministers, not even the media. No one is going to tell me I didn’t hear my son or that my wife wasn’t ministered to by a baby turtle. No one can explain why a dime shows up where it does or why a dead man is seen at his grave.


But one thing is for sure. We loved that man, woman, boy, our girl and still do. We think about them daily, hourly, sometimes minute to minute. So having these occurrences is not unnatural. They are to be expected, welcomed, and cherished. They bring us hope, they remind us of purpose. Yes, they bring a certain amount of sadness, but they also bring a deep inexplicable hope. Hope is watching a little turtle struggle to get up the side of a pond or a butterfly reach for the highest branch. Hope is rescuing a dime from the gutter. Hope is taking a random picture of the clouds on the anniversary of your son’s death and later seeing an angel in the clouds. And hope is believing that you will see your loved one again. Please read “ANDREWS STORY”, my mountain top experience on the anniversary of my son’s death at

Butterflies, Turtles, God-Winks, and HOPE

Andy Davidson

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APA Reference
Davidson, A. (2017). Butterflies, Turtles, God-Winks, and HOPE. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 6 Mar 2017
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