Can A Simple Butterfly Bring Comfort In Grief?

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Mellie and her grandmother were best friends, and when she found out her Nanny had suffered a serious stroke, her first reaction was numbness: “I was completely devoid of feelings,” writes Mellie.

But that changed as soon as she walked into the hospital room.

“Immediately I felt scared. Scared for what she must be going through mostly, since she couldn’t communicate. I was also scared for myself. What was going to happen?” All sense of control was gone, says Mellie.

Soon the fear became anger.

“I didn’t approve of this event happening in my life. This wasn’t okay with me, I was thinking, all the while knowing deep within that I had in fact signed up for this, and there was a lesson for me hidden beneath the sadness.”

Even though Nanny could not communicate outwardly, says Mellie, something began to happen between them. Once, while in the hospital gift shop, “I saw the most beautiful butterfly kimono, and in my head Nan’s voice was telling me how beautiful it was and that I needed to buy it. I wore that kimono every time I visited her.

“Prior to Nan’s stroke, we’d had a conversation about how she would appear after she passed on and we agreed she would come back as a butterfly, because she thought they were so beautiful and had always loved them. I didn’t know at the time, but this kimono became the first of many visits I would receive from butterflies.”

“…this kimono became the first of many visits I would receive from butterflies.”

Eventually, Mellie began to feel guilt. “My nanny was my best friend, a woman that I considered to be one of m y soul mates and, yet, seeing her lying there in that bed with half of her brain function lost, I eventually began wishing for her to go.”

Still, Mellie kept up her visits. “I could feel her spirit drifting in and out of her body. Sometimes it felt like she was there and other times I felt no connection to her body at all. She was all around me, flying about like a butterfly.”

Finally, deciding she couldn’t bear the idea of her Nan not returning to the woman she’d been, Mellie decided it must be time to let her go. “I felt shameful for having these thoughts, and yet when I discussed them with my family, I found they felt very similarly.

“My Nanny passed peacefully on August 29, 2015.”

Now, Mellie began to feel th e loss. Her Nanny was gone forever. They would never again share a hug or a cup of tea and a chat. “I would never again hear her tell me she loved me.”

A few days after her death, though, Nanny got through to Mellie. A family member who also happened to be a psychic medium, contacted Mellie with a message from her: “(She) wanted me to let go, spread my wings and fly, just as she had done only days ago. She offered me her strength to make that a reality.”

The following March, Mellie tried another means to connect with Nanny. This time, though, it was to let her go. “I felt that I was holding her back in some way, tying her down to the earthly realm. Wishing that she hadn’t left was making it difficult for me to carry on, so I thought that it may be time to let that go.”

Mellie signed up for an exercise called “conscious connected breathing” in which participants use breathing techniques to bridge between their conscious and unconscious. “During the breathing, the woman assisting me began massaging my hands. As she held my hand, hers felt like my Nanny’s. It was an odd sensation, so I quickly dismissed it. When the exercise was coming to an end, I rolled over to eye-gaze with my breathing partner. The man I was paired with had blue eyes like my Nanny’s. When I gazed into them, I had a strong feeling of looking into the eyes of my Nanny.

“In that moment, I realized that she is all around me.”

“In that moment, I realized that she is all around me. Her spirit lives inside of me and every other person. The oneness of the universe really became apparent to me through my breathing experience.”

Mellie says that even after that event, her Nanny continued to communicate with her through butterflies. “Whether it be an encounter with a live butterfly, or even just my eye catching a butterfly on someone’s scarf, I knew all of these butterflies were being sent by her.

“Nanny also tuned me in to certain songs. I would be contemplating some aspect of my life and the perfect song would come on the radio to answer my question. Each time this happened, my heart knew it was a message from her.”

Little more than a year after her grandmother’s passing, Mellie was getting ready for her wedding when she consulted a medium hoping for another message from her grandmother. She was not disappointed.

“My Nanny told me that I was on the perfect path, and that every decision I had made was the perfect one. That each choice had led me to this moment.

“She also told me that, on the other side, she had created the most beautiful garden she could ever imagine, but that no garden was more beautiful than watching me bloom into the young woman I am today.”

Nothing is more comforting than being able to know her grandmother’s still there, says Mellie, and her  experiences move her to offer words of wisdom for others finding their way through grief:

“If I can offer anything to help others in their grieving process, it would be to let all of your feelings be truly expressed. There is no map for grief, and I don’t believe that grieving ever ends, it just changes form.”

“The signs from our loved ones aren’t always overt,” she says. “Sometimes they can be very subtle, but when you open yourself to this form of communication and you feel like something is a sign from someone on the other side, like it was orchestrated perfectly for this moment, don’t dismiss those feelings. They are real and will bring such comfort in the days, weeks and years following a loved one’s death.

“If I can offer anything to help others in their grieving process, it would be to let all of your feelings be truly expressed. There is no map for grief, and I don’t believe that grieving ever ends, it just changes form.

“Know that your loved ones are always with you. A piece of them lives on within you, and so you can never be truly apart from them. Like a butterfly, they have flown from their cocoon. A new story is only just beginning.”

The Meaning of Forever Project continues to accept stories of comforting experiences with loved ones who have passed on, and of near-death experiences that have helped to show the continuation of life beyond the physical body. You can email your story to us at and you can find more about our project on our Facebook page, and our Meaning of Forever Website.