Looking for a butterfly

A painting of butterflies

As I sat in the church today I willed a butterfly to appear. A hundred of them softly floating around would have been perfect but just one would have done as a sign for the family in pain in the front row.

Today was the day we said our goodbyes to Linda.

Because she’d known she was dying she’d had the chance to talk through her wishes and arrange her own funeral service and it was beautiful. She’d even visited the plot a few months ago where she was buried today.

I first met Linda last October when she’d just been told she was terminally ill and nothing could be done to save her.

Her family got in touch with me to help her and so my brief, deep journey with her began.

I would visit her at home and help in whatever way I could to bring calmness and peace in times of anxiety and fear. Sometimes it would be a deeply peaceful place in her mind for her to go to when her breathing got harder, or a physical anchor for calmness. Other times we’d talk through her concerns for those she knew she’d be leaving behind and the best ways to make it easier.

One day when I arrived she’d been looking at pictures of coffins, trying to choose her own but concerned about how dark and sombre they were. So I told her about willow or wicker basket ones.

She asked about my own mum’s death and I shared how many years later, in a moment of anguish, I’d called out her name and a butterfly had appeared inside my bedroom in November. I’d opened the first book I found to help catch and set it free and the page opened on the word “mummy”. I also told her about the butterflies that had flown around a church at a previous winter funeral I’d been at and how I wondered if they were a sign of the spirit.

During the hypnosis with Linda that afternoon a butterfly vividly appeared to her and from that moment they took on a new significance. She joked that one day a huge butterfly would come to carry her away. She must have shared her feelings as every time I visited there would be something new someone had given her with butterflies on it. I have to confess that even I took her one as a gift one day.

As I sat in the church today with her wicker coffin laid at the front I saw the butterflies printed on her order of service. I wished and prayed for just one butterfly to show itself so her family would have some sign that she was still around them.
I even wished I’d got a box full of butterflies to surreptitiously set free, although that would have been cheating.
Just one butterfly, please. Even just for the briefest of moments. Even just the glimpse of a wing as it floated by. Please.
But none came.

I was humbled when Linda had told me that she believed I had been sent as her guardian angel. For me it was the greatest honour being part of her life in those final months and my soul has been deeply enriched. I will cherish her memory always.

And whether or not any butterflies show themselves to her family in the days to come, I have the feeling that she is now flying free, because her family gave her the greatest gift of love by letting her know it was ok to finally let go.

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One Response to “Looking for a butterfly”

  1. Penny Trahair February 28, 2014 9:51 am #

    Thank you for writing this, Pippa. How wonderful that you were able to help Linda and her family, and transform the experience of death and parting. It`s such a fundamental part of life, and yet one that most people shy away from until they are forced to confront it.

    Butterflies are a beautiful symbol of freedom, and I don`t think it matters at all that none were visible on the day. They had done their work in the time leading up to Linda`s passing. She had that picture in her mind, and it helped her.

    I found it very comforting to read this, so again; thank you.

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