When you lose someone close to you, someone you didn’t want to lose, someone you didn’t think you’d ever lose, you look for ways to keep them close to you. In its simplest form, it’s a way of coping with an overwhelming sense of grief.
There’s no right or wrong way to grieve. It’s a unique experience that takes you on journey that will change you forever. My journey began just over 14 months ago; it’s not been an easy crossing. During the moments when I accept that life must go on, I take comfort in the signs. They serve to remind me that my dad is looking over me, telling me to keep going, to not give up. Some people don’t believe in signs at all. That is their choice. Some people put all their faith into signs. That is also their choice. You have to do what works for you. On a very basic level, if you look for signs you will find them, but that doesn’t mean they’re not an important part of the healing process.
Finding a feather is common sign for those experiencing loss, and the saying goes, “when angels are near, feathers appear”. White feathers are meant to be a sign of faith and protection, telling us our loved ones are safe and well. For me, and my sense of grief, this is incredibly important. I’ve learnt that even if deep down you know that what you think is a sign is just a coincidence and not serendipity, it is still comforting. This can also bring comfort to others, something I’ve learnt to not underestimate. If I find a white feather I always tell my mum, it makes her smile. My sister recently framed one of my dad’s drawings. She placed it on her bed ready to hang on the wall, when she returned to it a white feather had landed on it. That made me smile.
For me, my most memorable signs have come from music. Music has always been a huge part of my life, but now it is helping me every day to rebuild myself. My love of music comes from my dad, and like my dad I like a lot of different types of music. Sometimes it’s as simple as turning on the radio and hearing a song my dad loved. Often I put my music on shuffle and a track plays that my dad recommended. My favourite though is the charity shop vinyl. My dad always loved playing his records. He moved onto CDs and downloads, but he championed vinyl every day and his record collection is wonderfully eclectic. A few years ago I got a record player and borrowed some LPs from my dad. Then I started collecting LPs of my own, and we would swap records. Vinyl is back in fashion and prices have gone through the roof, so I limit myself to only buying from charity shops. Last summer I picked up the 7” version of Blondie’s Denis. The 12” was always in my dad’s record collection and the cover image is the reason I’m obsessed with leopard print, and the colour red and Debbie Harry! Just before Christmas I found a Kate Bush single that my sister adores. It makes her think of my dad so I knew I had to buy it for her. I recently purchased a beautiful Madame Butterfly boxset, my dad’s favourite opera. When I picked it up from the crate on the floor of Oxfam it seemed a bit pricey. When the lady on the till leaned over and told me that for one day only all the vinyl was half price, I took it as a sign and went home with Puccini’s tragic masterpiece. Last week I took a chance and spent 25p on Ramon de Herrera’s ’Flamenco Guitar’. Whilst I was playing it for the first time, I looked it up online. Turns out it was printed in 1957, the year my dad was born. That’s my kind of sign. Since I’ve lost my dad I’ve come across some fantastic finds. They might not be valuable to anyone else, but to me they’re my signs to, as Bob Dylan would say, “keep on keepin’ on”.