What does a white feather mean?

6.30am. Out walking, and suddenly, grief knocked at my door.

It took the form of realising I was feeling a bit upset inside. Having walked quite fast for 40 minutes or so, I’d slowed down, and lo and behold, there was a visitor come to see me.

It took the form of remembering my Mum and Dad, who died in the same week 2.5 years ago, and my husband, who died in 2011, and simply feeling sad.

I let the sadness visit, and then I noticed a single white feather on the path in front of me.

Some people say white feathers represent a loved one who has died. If you don’t believe that, then it’s just a white feather and you probably wouldn’t even notice it. But I did notice it, and chose to believe it was representing Philip, whose life and then death is the reason Before I Go Solutions exists at all.

I tuned into his memory, feeling grateful for all he has brought me, and then another white feather showed itself, a few steps later.

Okay! This must be Dad then. Out loud I said:

‘Dad, you’re here! Thank you so much for being a great dad, you might have been a bit crotchety sometimes but you were also incredibly loving and I did love you, a lot.’ A memory of him in his naval uniform with his arm round me, and us gazing adoringly into each others’ eyes came to mind.

I walked on.

Surprise, surprise, another white feather, round the corner. By this time I was laughing. Of course it was Mum, she wasn’t going to be left out!

I turned onto the little bridge over the river I’d been walking alongside.

I knew they had to be let go of.

The first two feathers, Philip and Dad, stuck a little bit to my fingers and needed some encouragement to drop off into the water. They both got sucked under some turbulence, bobbed out the other side, and found their way to calmer waters.

Mum’s feather let go more easily, but wafted way onto the other side and took a different path through the gurgling water, until joining the calmer stream further down.

It felt okay to say goodbye to them, going on their journeys.

And that’s what grief is like. Even many years later, it can come knocking at your door.

When it does, whether there are feathers around or not, it really pays to answer.

Open the door, let the feeling in, welcome it and be in its presence for a while.

It will leave of its own accord, because that’s what grief does, comes and goes. Give it the attention it needs and like all emotions, it will then be felt. And, as my teacher the great Louise L. Hay said:

‘What you feel, you can heal’

There’s been a lot of grief around for many people during the pandemic, and no doubt more to come. Not just death of our loved ones, but the loss of lifestyles, jobs, travel, houses, hugs, seeing close family – masses of loss. So let us all do ourselves and everyone else a favour and let it be there when grief comes knocking.


Enjoyed this? Read a similar article here: What signs do we get from people who have died?

Signs are just one way of coping with grief. Find others to help you in Jane’s book Gifted By Grief.

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