What The Butterfly Can Teach Us About Grief

Photo By: Cara Hope Clark
For days now it seems that every time I look out the window or sit out on my patio I see the graceful and seemingly effortless flight of a Yellow Swallowtail butterfly. On my morning walks I see tiny white butterflies, sometimes in groups, that dance and fly as if they are celebrating life in all its glory. Such sweetness!
I frequently take note of the signs and symbols that appear all around us on a daily basis. The more we can open our awareness and learn from these messages the more we start to learn that we are always being guided. That this is a form of communication from our loved ones, the Angelic Realm, God, Spirit etc. Feel free to fill in the blank with the language you feel most comfortable with. If we are willing to be conscious of them they can act as beacons directing our awareness and understanding as we move through our grief and our lives. Serving as constant reminders that we are never really alone even when we feel most vulnerable and hopeless. There is always an opportunity to reach out for support.
I was in a healing session the other day and the image of the butterfly came through. The message was that I needed to honor the butterfly and all it signifies and that the butterfly symbolizes an aspect of my own journey through grief. Now we all know the story of the butterfly and that it represents transformation but it is also a symbol for Joy. I have been inviting Joy into my life lately so no surprise that butterfly would show up for me as a reminder to lighten up and dance more willingly with the mystery of life a little bit more each day.
The metamorphosis that takes place in the chrysalis is not an easy process. It is an active time, fraught with change, darkness, patience and struggle. While we grieve we spend months, sometimes years engulfed in the darkness of our own little cocoons, struggling, suffering, processing our feelings, hopefully healing over time, trying to make sense of it all. It can be a time of deep transformation.
Since returning from my Asheville trip in May I have been in yet another chrysalis phase. There have been many of these since Claude died by suicide five years ago. It has been uncomfortable, painful, dark, and full of struggle. Yet, I am grateful for the light that has illuminated my current emergence into this next chapter, newly empowered to continue on with my life purpose with an activation of joy as a welcomed bonus.
What holds true for the butterfly holds true for us as we grieve. We can’t open and emerge from the chrysalis before we are ready. Patience and permission from within is needed to allow this process to unfold naturally and to be experienced in a way that only we can dictate. No one understands our grief the way we do and nobody can tell us what our journey should look like. Some people can “move on” relatively quickly and others will grieve the rest of their lives in one form or another. In other words, there is a broad spectrum of how we experience and participate with our loss over time.
We all have our own individual paths to follow. There is no right or wrong here. For me viewing this experience as an opportunity for healing and creating a new life has been in place from the very beginning. Since this road is unavoidably imbued with ups and downs I have had to re-commit to myself repeatedly. Healing takes time, a lot of strength, tenacity, determination and, most importantly, commitment. I am not suggesting that grief has a final destination; it doesn’t. However, if you can see even a small fracture though the darkness of your grief and have desire to heal and find your own renewed purpose I am living proof that it is possible. It does not mean your pain will go away. It won’t, but it will temper with time. Yes, it’s true your life will never be the same. But over time it is possible to emerge from your own chrysalis as someone who is stronger and ready to engage with the world in a way that you never could have imagined…I invite you to be open to that possibility.
I encourage you to look for your own guidance through the signs and symbols that are surrounding you in your world. Feel free to check back in, I would love to hear what shows up for you.
Blessings and love,
Cara Hope


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13 thoughts on “What The Butterfly Can Teach Us About Grief

  1. Chrysalis as metaphor is powerful and beautiful. We’ve created a Monarch sanctuary at my dad’s home, and so I’m reminded frequently of this transformation and joyfulness. Approaching five years for my son and me on our journey. Much healing has occurred, and we will continue. Your words provide support, understanding and the patience that’s so necessary to find peace and purpose after a suicide. Thank you, Kara.

  2. Linda I am getting chills reading your comment. I just LOVE the idea of the Monarch sanctuary at your dads home, beautiful!!! I appreciate your kind words more than you could ever know! <3

  3. I’ve lost many loved ones in the years that have passed Son, Mother ,3 Brothers and many aunts, Uncles cousins and friends. With each Loss the grieving experience is different and you grow with each and every one. The hardest of all was losing my Son and Mother the grief is much deeper and last for me a very long time. And with each time I have merged into a better person with more understanding and love for the ones I hold dear and others around me.

  4. Eleanor thank you for sharing your experience with grief. I love your attitude towards your healing journey, I am sure that has served you well! Much love! <3

  5. Hi Kara, thank you for sharing your place in the healing journey. We have gravitated toward butterflies too in helping us understand our recent loss. Light, airy, beautiful, yet deeply complex…

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