Message from a departed loved one

A message from a departed loved one can bring a spontaneous tear.

Of the many hats I wear, one is as facilitator of a weekly group on “Reminiscences & Life Lessons” at a senior living community. I absolutely adore silver-haired, wrinkled folk and their long-winded sagas. But the downside of the job is the heartbreak I suffer every time I lose a dear friend.

Ruthie and I “clicked” the day she moved into an apartment at the community. Short and squat with a crown of stringy salt-and-pepper, Ruthie always had a twinkle in her eye. Brimming with stories that were unique to her–she spent some of her youth working as a barmaid–she was a dear old eighty-something who was always ready to pull a joke out of her bag.

Ruthie’s specialty was naughty jokes. I’ve been around plenty of octagenarians, but I’m yet to meet an eighty-something who gets that wicked look in her eye when a colorful joke is coming. Being in your eighth decade of life and being funny is a tough balancing act, but Ruthie pulled it off. Most of her peers in the retirement community loved Ruthie, but there were the odd old-fashioned prudes who steered clear of her.

Ruthie was a loyal member of my group. When she went missing a couple of weeks, I learned that she’d been in hospital and then rehab. She did return saying all was well.  So when she didn’t show up a week later, I put it down to her legs causing her more trouble. Next Monday, I walked into the building and the group told me that Ruthie had passed over the weekend. Stunned, I just sat there, unable to understand. How could someone with Ruthie’s sense of vitality and fun be gone!?

As the day wore on and the week, it began to sink in, images of our times together flashing before my eyes every so often. And then life took over as it predictably does. But my days were layered with an undercurrent of sadness. My mind whispered Ruthie, Rutie, Ruthie. On my To-Do list was a trip to the library to return a bunch of books. I hadn’t planned on checking anything out, but I did. An unusual title was among my picks–Deepak Chopra’s Why Is God Laughing? The Path to Joy and Spirital Optimism. I turned the pages and was soon engrossed in the story. It was so entertaining and had so many aha’s that I finished it in record time. When I was done, I turned the book over…and that’s when it struck me.

The regulars to this blog know I believe we never stop communicating with those who have crossed over. We need to stay present and pay attention to the signs, though. They send us messages any way they can get our attention, from blinking lights to song lyrics and license plates to books that fall off shelves.

I knew in my gut that this book was Ruthie’s way of reaching out and letting me know that she was okay. The realization had me chuckling in no time. Of course God would be laughing, with Ruthie in His space! The book was chock full of jokes, some of them naughty, some of them smart, some, witty and some, tart. I knew in that moment: this was a special gift to me from my dear friend.

What did I hear her say to me? Here I am, and God is splitting his sides. She was also reminding me to keep laughing. There’s always a joke round the corner.

You’re unstoppable, Ruthie. Having crossed over, you still manage to make me laugh.

Have you received a message from a departed loved one?

You may also find this article on messages from the other side useful reading.

“Understanding Death: 10 Ways to Inner Peace for the Grieving” by Uma Girish now available on


  1. Jude Whitebear on December 4, 2012 at 4:45 am

    Oh, Uma, I love this story! I have tears of sadness with a sprinkle of happiness — for Ruthie is just like my dear mother-in-law, Louise. Of course, she was “Mom” to me. She left us way too soon, at just barely 74, and it’s been over ten years now, but I always said I knew she was cracking them up wherever she was. Her jokes were especially ribald, and Jimmy still tells them today.

    I, too, have always had an affinity for the “older generation,” and have been blessed to have had at least two, and now a third, “mother” — Ethel, Margie, and now Diana — lovely older women who have become great friends and a second mother to me. Ethel passed on in 1992 and Margie just a few years later in 1994, just before I was to leave Chicago for Alaska. She was struck by a tow truck while standing on a center island in the middle of a busy street in Chicago. She had a choice then, to leave or stay, and I was told that since I was leaving Chicago, she chose to leave the body.

    Diana is a wonderful 82-year-old woman, so precious in that we see eye to eye on the important matters of life, unlike my own mother (who raised me, and adopted me shortly after birth) who is as different as night to day from me. I am so blessed that God has brought these other mothers to me throughout life, to fill an empty space in my heart.

    Thank you again, Uma, for your wonderful story. I admit that I have not been keeping up with reading your blog, but they are all safely stored in my email program, for when I have the space and energy for some good reading. That will be sooner than later, dear Uma. You are such a good writer!

    • umagirish on December 4, 2012 at 2:58 pm

      Thanks, Jude! I’m so touched by all that you shared. What a precious gift these women were to you! Oftentimes when we’re missing the love of our biological parents (maybe they’re not in a position to love us because they don’t love themselves or are struggling with their own pain), the Universe brings us angels in these forms, I believe. You know what they say…you don’t have to be “family”; you just have to know how to love well. Thank you for all your kind words…it gives me joy to birth these words and have them received with such love.

  2. vidu on December 4, 2012 at 8:18 am

    Brilliant,Ums! What a positive way to keep in touch with those loved ones who leave us ! Enjoyed reading it!

  3. umagirish on December 4, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Thanks! Those who cross over never leave us. We need to remember that. They talk to us in a variety of ways. Often we’re the ones not listening.

  4. Sheema on December 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Hi Uma,Enjoyed reading this, and will savour your blog one piece at a time 🙂

    • umagirish on December 5, 2012 at 1:58 am

      Thanks, Sheema. Keep posting your feedback. I value it.

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