Losing a loved one is one of the hardest things a person can go through in life. After the death of someone close to you, you might find yourself looking for signs that they’re still with you.
From butterflies to mysterious coins, from feathers to strange smells, many people have reported similar “signs” from their deceased loved ones. And whether you believe the dead can communicate with the living or not, certain signs might still remind you of a loved one you’ve lost.
Below are some of the most popular claims of signs from deceased loved ones from people around the world.
(For guidance on handling a deceased loved one's final affairs, we have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.)
The most commonly reported “sign” from a deceased loved one is the butterfly. And that makes a lot of sense since butterflies represent the human soul in many cultures. They also symbolize endurance, hope, and the life cycle.
In some cases, a single butterfly seems to follow a person around or appear over and over again. Some people have reported that a butterfly allowed them to hold it in their hands for long periods of time.
In other cases, many butterflies seemed to appear as a sign from a deceased loved one. Where butterflies usually show up alone or in pairs, there might be dozens or more.
Many types of butterflies have been reported as possible signs from the deceased. They often appear in bright colors, like canary yellow or cobalt blue. The most popular butterfly, in this case, is the Monarch.
The next most popular sign from a deceased loved one is a feather. Feathers have long represented communication with the other side, as well as the presence of spirits or angels. There’s even a popular saying, “When feathers appear, angels are near.”
People have reported finding feathers in odd places, like their pockets or the floor of their homes. Finding feathers in the same places is also a commonly reported occurrence that people have interpreted as a sign from the dead.
It might not be uncommon to find a quail feather, or some other bird feather lying around the house (especially if you own a cat). That’s why most of the time, feathers that are considered “signs” are reportedly pure white.
Coins are another widely-reported possible “sign” from the departed. Many people believe that finding pennies in unexpected places is a clear sign from the deceased. And dimes are another commonly reported coin that might represent communication from the other side.
Some people have reported finding pennies lying on the floor, either individually or in odd groupings. They might be arranged in a circular pattern or in a line. Others have even made the claim that pennies sometimes fall out of the air to land on their heads.
The reason for coins as a possible sign from departed spirits isn’t completely clear. But throughout history, coins have been a common symbol of mourning, which may have led to their interpretation as a sign from the afterlife.
If you happen to find a coin that you think might be a sign from the deceased, it’s recommended that you check the date on the coin. If the date is significant in your life, or in the life of the departed, that could be an additional sign.
In addition to butterflies, people often report an increased presence of dragonflies as a sign from deceased loved ones. The difference might be as simple as the region where you live: maybe butterflies are more common, but dragonflies suddenly started appearing, or vice-versa.
But butterflies and dragonflies also have different symbologies that might be useful in interpreting a sign from a departed loved one. As mentioned, many cultures around the world associate butterflies with the human soul. They represent endurance, hope, and, in Christianity, resurrection.
The dragonfly, on the other hand, symbolizes wisdom, light, and adaptability. It’s thought to represent emotion, rather than the soul as a whole. Many people believe the dragonfly shows up to bring lightness and joy to a person’s life.
Feathers might be a sign from the departed on their own, but so are certain types of birds. In particular, hummingbirds are a commonly-reported “sign” from the departed.
If hummingbirds don’t normally show up around your home, and you see one shortly after a loved one passes away, you might interpret that as a sign.
Another bird that’s often seen as a possible messenger from the afterlife is the cardinal. Many people interpret a visit from a cardinal as a message from a departed loved one or from a higher power.
6. Squirrels and deer
Flying creatures aren’t the only ones that could act as a sign from a deceased loved one. People have also reported squirrels, chipmunks, deer, and other wildlife as possible signs.
In some cases, the deceased loved one had a special appreciation of a certain animal, like a deer. So when a deer showed up shortly after they passed away, their family interpreted that as a sign.
In other instances, a creature appeared where it normally wouldn’t, shortly after someone passed away.
Another small object that’s frequently reported as a sign from a deceased loved one is a stone or pebble. As with pennies and other coins, people have reported finding small stones and pebbles in odd locations, like the middle of the floor, in drawers, or in pockets.
A stone that could be a “sign” from the deceased is usually unique in some way. It might be particularly smooth, colored differently than other minerals in the area, or it might have an unbroken line around it, marking it as a “wishing stone.”
Sometimes, the spirit of a departed loved one might try to communicate with a more straightforward message. Rather than leave everyday items like coins and pebbles lying around, they might place one of their own belongings somewhere unusual.
People have reported finding a deceased loved one’s belongings in places where they definitely shouldn’t be. For example, a pair of glasses worn by the departed might show up in the kitchen months after they pass away.
Finding your loved one’s belongings in strange places might be an indication that you’re starting to notice things more (for example, maybe the glasses were there the whole time, but you suddenly noticed them now). This can be part of the grieving process, as you begin to accept and integrate the deceased person’s absence from your life.
But some people believe finding a deceased loved one’s belongings can also signify that person’s clear communication from the other side.
Possible signs from departed loved ones don’t always rely on our sense of sight. People have also reported smells as a potential “sign” from a deceased loved one.
Some have noticed their loved one’s unique fragrance—a perfume, cologne, or maybe a fabric softener—well after the scent should have faded away. Others note smelling unusual smells, like roses or cigarettes.
Another way people speculate that the deceased might be trying to communicate is through our dreams. It might not be uncommon to dream about your loved one after they pass away. But if you see the person repeatedly every night, or if they act as a guide or convey a clear message to you in your dream, it could be a sign.
Some speculate that the spirits of the deceased communicate with their loved ones in dreams because it’s easier. When we’re asleep, our mind is in an altered state, and our intuition takes the forefront. So when your loved one communicates a message to you in your dream, it may be easier to absorb than if you were awake.
Receiving Signs from Dead Loved Ones
You might believe that one—or all—of the signs above are possible communications from the afterlife. Or you might not.
But one thing is clear: people around the world have been experiencing what they see as signs from the departed throughout human history.
We might never know whether these objects and events are truly “signs” or whether they just help us remember departed loved ones. But either way, signs like the ones above have helped—and will continue to help—many people cope with the loss of the loved ones they dearly miss.
Looking to read more about death and "signs?" Read our guide on dreaming about death.
- Kubota, Samantha. “14 times people got 'signs' from loved ones who have died.” Today. 1 November 2019. https://www.today.com/parents/14-times-people-got-signs-loved-ones-who-have-died-t166124
- Rosen, Rebecca. “Signs Your Loved Ones Might Be Trying to Contact You (From the Other Side).” Oprah. http://www.oprah.com/inspiration/signs-your-loved-ones-might-be-trying-to-contact-you
- McKay, Nancy. “What Does The Dragonfly Symbolize?.” Thrive Global. 18 December 2019. https://thriveglobal.com/stories/what-does-the-dragonfly-symbolize/#:~:text=Dragonfly%20Wisdom,and%20joy%20to%20their%20life.