by Coral Popowitz
On a blue moon in June of 1996 my beloved grandmother Geoline, known to all who loved her as Grama, took her last breath after 92 years of giving unconditional love to her family, including the critters on our central Minnesota homestead.
I was devastated at the loss of this amazing, gentle soul. A week after her funeral, eyes still filled with tears, heart burdened with sadness I took my young children to a local park for some much needed fun and relaxation. It was very crowded that day, there was only one table left for us to start our picnic.
As we approached the table, seven excited kids in swimsuits, carrying baskets of food, toys for the lake, life vests, clamoring to get there before the last table was gone. . . we saw her. A monarch butterfly was sitting, lightly, in the middle of our table, gently moving her wings, soaking up the afternoon sun. The little ones rushed to see her but didn’t chase her away, instead she waited and as I set my finger down she stepped on it, all the while gently moving her wings. I brought her closer to my face to see her clearly through my tears. At that moment, everything around me grew blurry as I focused my attention on her, the sounds of my children and the crowded park became echo-like and I ‘heard’ the silence of her gently moving wings. Curiosity getting the better of him, my seven year old reached up to see closer, jerking my arm – and still she stayed steady on my finger a few minutes more. Then she lifted off, gently flew past my cheek, ‘kissing’ me with her wings, circling my head several times until she flew off.
My heart was soothed, I was smiling as I realized that though my Grama was physically gone from my day to day life, her ‘being’ with me would never die. I continue to see Monarch butterflies whenever I am in need of a little ‘Grama’ time.
This experience of finding meaning in loss and living through the grief journey inspired me to a career first in grief counseling and eventually into therapy for and with people who are facing all of life’s losses, challenges and changes. Monarch Counseling Service was born out of my Grama’s love; it is her legacy.