What signs do we get from people who have died?

I saw a woodpecker!  I saw a woodpecker!

Why was this so important?

Well, I have to take you back in time to just after my husband Philip died, it was just a few weeks after he’d gone and I was out tramping in the woods, feeling so angry that I had been left behind.

‘Philip!’ I screamed, ‘where are you?  I can’t bear not knowing – if you can hear me, send me a sign that will tell me in no uncertain terms that it is you!’

I carried on, tears streaming down my face, unable to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the woods.

I came to a path that goes alongside a copse I’ve passed many, many times before. But this time I felt compelled to walk into the middle of the trees. It was a really strong pull, with no logical reason for doing so.

In the middle, I found a dead tree trunk and sat down on it. Looking up, I saw straight ahead another standing dead tree and this one was full of woodpecker holes.

I burst into tears again, but this time tears of joy.

‘It’s you! You really did hear me!’

The significance of these woodpecker holes was enormous. No-one else could have known that Philip and I had spent a night in a pine forest in California back in 2004, surrounded by tree trunks which had been visited by woodpeckers. We even brought a bit of bark home with us, it was so beautiful.

So I knew my anguish had been witnessed.

Now, back to the present. This morning I had discovered that there was something holding me back in my business (which would not exist if Philip had not died and I had not written about it in my first book Gifted By Grief). I identified that I didn’t want to leave Philip behind, as the company grows.

On my walk, I visited the ‘Woodpecker Tree’ and tidied up the little shrine I had made there with twigs and leaves. I talked with Philip and understood that I wasn’t leaving him behind, rather that he was behind me.

As I got up to leave, I felt his hand in the small of my back, just gently supporting me, and nudging me forward. Given we had been partners in our previous business this felt very appropriate.

Ten minutes later and in a different part of the woods, I hear the rat-tat-tat of a woodpecker. In 13 years living here I have heard them many times, but never seen one.

Until now!  There it was, a great spotted woodpecker with its remarkable red feathers at the base of its back, far above me!

I chose to believe in that moment that Philip’s energy was, once more, around me. Surrounding me, supporting me, sustaining me and Before I Go Solutions. Wonderful!


Enjoyed this? Read a similar article here: What does a white feather mean?

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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