Do you believe in God? An afterlife? Nothing at all? One God, creation, retribution, reincarnation or Heaven?
Personally none of that makes sense to me.
However one of my greatest friends lost her young boy to cancer almost two years ago. She is religious and has a deep faith, firmly believing he is in heaven and some day she will be reunited with him.
So what do I say to her? Rubbish? Tell her she is wrong? Just because I have no faith does that mean I am right?
Up until young Daniel died I was very comfortable with my lack of belief. However since then I’ve found myself look for him, talk to him and wonder about where he is, most days. I lost my own dad when I was just twenty one, and have spoken to him almost every day since. I have wanted to, and continue to want to believe, he would never have left me, and as a result is never far away.
Last week young Daniel should have been getting his junior cert results, along with thousands of other Irish children aged 15/16. The day was so sad, as we quietly mourned the young boy who never got the chance to sit those exams or enjoy the party atmosphere of results day…or night.
The following day I, and a group of friends, headed away. (Remember?) Daniels mum was among us. One of the days I felt she was a little distracted, perhaps missing her young son or coming to terms with the fact he had missed another milestone.
We took ourselves off to the beach.
Late in the evening we were all sitting around chatting as the sun was going down. Daniels mum was in full flow, when a white butterfly began to fly around her. It settled on her hand, her head and her shoulder. As she continued to speak she gently waved the butterfly out of her way. Each time it flew but a few inches, before returning to her. I was mesmerised, for I had heard many times an old belief, that a butterfly symbolises a soul making contact. I continued to watch as it fluttered about her. Despite knowing my friend was in a little more pain than her normal that day, I decided to speak up, and share with her what a butterfly is said to symbolise. One of the other girls concurred with my story, as she too had been noting it’s attraction. Dan’s mum paused for a moment to look at the butterfly before it flew off once more. It never came near the rest of us, nor did it fly to any neighbouring beach goers. During the remaining three days we never again saw a butterfly on the beach.
Thinking back on that moment, I have no idea whether this is a myth or not, but what I do know, is that on a day my buddy was crying inside for her young boy, this butterfly came her way.
Maybe it means nothing, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if it did?
photo credit: White Butterfly via photopin (license)
photo credit: a900_angel_halo via photopin (license)
31 thoughts on “Is there life after death?”
We never know Tric, but everything’s possible. An open mind helps.
Yes I’ve definitely softened my atheist tendencies over time and most days I like to imagine anything is possible Irene.
Love this. 💕
Thank you. I think many have had moments.
Wow, what a touching story!
Im not superstitious but do believe on God and firmly believe He can use any medium (person, animal, insect, nature whatever) to get His point across. The Bible is full of such examples: manner falling from heaven, plagues in Egypt (frogs, sea turning to blood, famine, etc), rainbow after the flood, doves, and on and on. So the butterfly being a comfort and sign is really not that hard to believe. God was just comforting her.
When my dad died I was here in the States and he was back home in the Caribbean. I was in my bedroom and it was a fairly still day. Suddenly all the curtains flew up into the air as a gust of cool breeze passed through the room then the curtains went limp again and the air was once again still. To this day I’m convinced that was my dad’s soul stopping along the way to say goodbye.
I was raised to believe that when a person dies, the body goes back to the earth (dust to dust) and the soul/breath goes back to God (since God breathe into the nostrils of Adam to give him first life). If a person is saved in Jesus’ name he/she will reunite with loved ones in heaven who are also saved.
Blessings to you and your friend. May you have strength to be of comfort to her no matter what you believe 🙂
Thank you. I’ve learned over time that regardless of what I believe it is, and always will be a mystery. That is a lovely story about your dad. I hope you’ve continued to feel him close.
Sometimes I do. 🙂
I do believe that we each have a spirit/soul/energy/consciousness that lives beyond the death of our physical body. I also believe in God/Divine/Love/Unity. But it is my belief and not something that I expect others to share, understand, or make sense of. Even though I believe, it is mystery, so I couldn’t explain it even if I tried.
What is obvious is that your friend’s pain was comforted by the butterfly and the presence and support of you and your friends. Love always helps.
i’ve always noted in your writing Joanne your own deep faith but your ability to leave others believe whatever they chose. I think you really nailed it when you finished your comment with ‘love always helps’. How right you are.
If there was no one there for you/me/us to talk to, pray to, hear us, I don’t think we would feel so strongly to do so.
Beautiful beautiful post Tric.
Thats an interesting idea Colleen, that others enable us to believe or to look.
Thank you. I know you’ve had more than your fair share of grief over the last while.
I don’t think any of us get through ‘here’ without our grief Tric. It does us well to help one another through as best we can.
I, too, know the story of butterflies being identified with guardian angels or the souls of the recently departed – wonder from where or whom I learned that ?
I can’t imagine 🙂
I lost my mother suddenly back in April she was 74 and had been with my father since they were 16 years old so this has been a rough time for all of us but especially him. There are days I am okay and feel fine but then there are times when I just cry and miss my mother so much that It hurts. I understand that many people have different beliefs about death and most of the time those beliefs are what give many of us comfort in an uncomfortable situation. For many their beliefs may be based o what is in the bible for others it is based on philiosophy, whatever it is that a person believes it is going to have to be something that gives them comfort and hope when they lose a loved one.
I’m so very sorry to hear about your mum. A mother is such a huge part of our lives her loss must be enormous.
It is wonderful for us to live a long life with our partners but how dreadful then to live without them. My sympathies to your Dad too.
The pain of grief really is so physical, it often surprises me how much it hurts. Yes indeed what does it really matter what each one of us believes as long as it brings some comfort our way.
Some days are easier to deal with it than others but then there days when it hurts like crazy
A very beautiful post.
Wow, that was a special moment, wonderful!
Thank you Michael. It was a ‘special’ moment that day, for all of us but particularly my friend.
That would be lovely! When my dad was dying a white butterfly came in. He was in a coma, downstairs in a hospital bed, in our house, and was calling out for his mother. We took it to be her. The white butterfly, or another one, appeared on the day he died. I believe in heaven. Since I’ve had children I’ve found that I believe and find comfort in a lot of what I was taught in religion, even though there is so much I don’t remember, understand, or have any interest in. I suppose you can call me a cherry picking catholic, I choose the things that suit me about God and the afterlife and say prayers and talk to God and go to mass sporadically, but I’m happy that way and it’s hard as my husband’s family are atheists (actual atheists) and I get the odd unnecessary comment. ‘Believe what you want, and allow others to do the same’ is the mantra I go by. Lovely, lovely post that made me cry, just because I’m selfish and thinking of all who have passed. xxxx
Sorry I made you cry but just to say I don’t think that was a selfish act at all.
In our house we are the opposite as my husband has strong faith but like yourself is a bit of a cherry picker. However I don’t feel it is my place to argue with him or ridicule his beliefs, he on the other hand waits in hope that someday I’ll join him.
Whatever makes grief easier I say, although I can imagine that if I lost one of my children the pain of thinking I’d never see them again might finish me, so who knows what I’d chose to believe.
i believe that all things are possible in the universe and we can’t even begin to understand them. i am not religious in any traditional sense, having long ago left my catholic upbringing, but i do believe in kindness, compassion and love, and who is to say what form that will take? i am happy that this butterfly came by to bring happiness and peace to ease the hearts of those who suffer so.
Thank you Beth. I’m more than a little like yourself, but I’m glad, for whatever reason, that this little butterfly came at such a timely moment.
Each to their own Tric – touching post as usual.
Thank you C.J
I believe, Tric, but I also question (more often than not). This is such a beautiful story and gave me goosebumps. I can’t imagine losing a child, but it was wonderful of you to share the butterfly story with her. I’ll remember it now whenever I see a butterfly. Like you, I talk to my Mom all the time, but she is around in the form of hummingbirds (her favorites). 🙂
Well, there aren’t many bigger questions than this one. Perhaps not any. I understand your reluctance to rubbish your friend’s belief and also the uncertainty you feel about your own position.
I don’t talk about religion much and if asked usually describe myself as a no-leaning agnostic. There are certain religious doctrines that I strongly disagree with. (I find it impossible to imagine a loving God creating an eternal Hell, for example.) I also don’t see a huge amount of objective evidence for a divine creation.
On the other hand, I’m not certain. The older I get, the less I feel I really know about anything, not just religion. Sometimes when I think about such things, I do notice at the heart of myself what some writers call “the God-shaped hole” and then I look up at the sky and wonder.
I believe when there is no logical reason too – I hold onto whatever gives me a story that galvanizes me to put one foot in front of the other, for one more day – -doesn’t make it right or true – but it is, to my mind, the very thing that gives the humanoid it’s power – holding on when everything says “Give Up!” and realizing when your “Give Up” voice might just be wrong – double-edged sword – – 😀