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How Do We Really Know if it's a Sign from Our Loved One in Spirit?

Updated: Jan 16, 2023

As an intuitive and a researcher, here’s how I analyze the signs from Spirit that I receive.

May 2020. Florida, United States. My parents’ home, back patio. My usual chair.

About six weeks had passed since losing my B.

I spent the first months of grief in that same patio chair, sometimes reading, sometimes writing, other times just staring off into the oak trees of the backyard.

My B and I are from different countries (me, from the US; him, from Argentina), and we spent most of our relationship living abroad. Immediately after he passed, I moved back to the US and in with my parents. I needed to be safe and still while I processed and healed.

This particular May day was like most others. My mom joined me outside while I took refuge in my usual chair. With my dad at work, she and I were the only ones home.

I don’t remember our exact conversation, but at that stage of grief, almost all talk was centered on B and his passing.



“Is he really gone?!”

As the questions flowed, so did the tears. At one point I got up from my chair to get more tissues from inside. I opened the door and headed into the living room. I crossed the open corridor into the dining room, and as I did, I stopped frozen in my tracks.

In the middle of the empty dining room floor, something shiny and metallic caught my eye.

I inched closer until I was hovering over the object. I crouched down to get a better look.

I leaned forward and gasped, my breath lodged in my throat. My mouth fell to the ground.

On the middle of the hardwood floor of the empty dining room in the empty house was a perfect little stack of two Swiss Franc coins, arranged biggest and then smallest, the smaller one laid perfectly symmetrical on top.

My heart was racing; fresh tears streamed down my cheeks. I called to my mom. “You’ve got to come see this!”

B and I had lived in Switzerland a couple years before, relocating there when I accepted a research position with the United Nations, fresh out of my doctoral program. While we’d spent time in several countries together, Switzerland was one of our favorite places in the world—incredible Alpine scenery, a cushy quality of life, and full of lifelong friends we’d made along the way.

But our time in Switzerland had since come to a close, and by the time B had died, a year had passed since we left the country.

Back in my parents’ dining room in the US, staring down at the coins. A swirl of total disbelief mixed with absolute knowing coursed through my veins—intuitive gut versus logical brain.

Emotionally, I knew what was happening; I understood exactly who the coins were from. But logically? It couldn’t be!

My mom joined me in the corridor. “Amazing,” she whispered, peering down at the little stack.

I picked up the coins and inspected them gently—feeling them, connecting to the energy pulsing through me and around me.

Ten-cent and one-Franc pieces; solid and very real.

But why were they there?

At the time, we were deep in the throes of Covid-19 quarantine, and only my parents and I had been in the house over the last several weeks. (We spent mourning in lockdown, but that’s a story for another time.) We confirmed that neither my parents nor I had left the coins on the floor that day, and no one else would have physically been there to leave them either. (No one in human form at least.)

In addition, time had elapsed since we would have had Swiss Francs on hand. Even if my parents had brought a few home from a trip to see us, their last visit had been two years prior. There was no way that the coins would have lasted in a perfect little stack in the corridor for two years. This was the main thoroughfare of the house; someone would have surely noticed them or run them over.

I racked my brain for other explanations, but nothing came to mind.

There was no rational reason for any coins to be arranged how they were—let alone these coins.

With no other explanation, I accepted what my gut already knew.

I’d just received a message from my B in Spirit.

Other signs

The Swiss Franc Experience wasn’t the first time that B visited from Spirit, nor was it the last. In fact, his messages began the night after he died, and continue to occur a few times a week.

He sends his signs in various ways. Occasionally I smell brief whiffs of him without warning—the scent of his clothing, his skin, his hair. A few times, I’ve heard his voice—a poignant joke in Spanish that only he would make. For several months after he passed away, the lights at home flashed continuously without explanation, and other electronics also oddly behaved. I feel random cold air drafts without an obvious source and often hear gentle raps on the walls of my bedroom, especially when I’m at ease, sleeping, reading, or meditating.

I've also picked up emotional and mental “knowings” about his life and his passing, information that I was unaware of before he died. Many of these messages were later validated by documents and writings he left behind—items I discovered after his death.

It’s not just me who receives his messages.

Like the coins, friends have received their own physical gifts—inexplicable, perfectly placed physical objects, with some sort of deliberate, personal meaning attached.

Many of us have had vivid dreams of B—so lifelike that we feel the warmth of his body and his physical embrace.

We’ve also been “followed” by butterflies, specifically Monarchs. The sentiment is usually, “I can’t explain it…but it was B.

Every sign, every message fills me with deep happiness, immense gratitude, and connection to the man I still love.

But my inner researcher keeps me on my toes.

Are the smells and dreams just triggered memories, lodged deep within the subconscious? Are the associations we attach to certain objects or insects just our imagination—a desire to be close again to the person we lost?

Every sign, every message fills me with deep happiness, immense gratitude, and connection to the man I still love.

Analyzing the signs

We want to know that it’s truly them before we can believe.

As a researcher, my way of seeking confirmation has been to document the details of the signs I receive, and analyze them with an open, yet objective, mind.

Every time I receive a sign, I record the date, time, details of what happened. I note who was with me when I received the message as well as the physical sensations and emotions I felt (even skepticism). I keep Word files, audio recordings, and, when relevant, pictures. If a physical object (a “gift”) was given, of course I keep that, too.

To understand the messages and determine their validity, I then look at the information on three different levels. First I review the objective facts of what happened with the message. Then I consider emotional meaning attached to it. Finally, I sit with my intuition and ask, what am I feeling about a sign’s authenticity? Does it feel real to me?

Level 1: Factual evidence of the message

When I first assess the factual evidence of a message, my main task is to understand the objective details of the event. From there I’m able to go back and observe patterns across messages.

For example, I observed that over several months, a few nights a week I would be woken up at 3 A.M. by a touch, a tapping on the wall or ceiling, or a thick sensing that my B was in the room. As a researcher, evidence of a repeating sign indicates that the message is probably not random. In other words, it didn’t happen by chance. It wasn't imagined.

Then I consider: a message might not be random, but what if it was caused by something else?

To this end, I also pay attention to the mechanics and the counterfactuals. Is there anything else that could have caused a particular sign to happen? If a lamp is blinking, is the bulb fresh? Is there a power surge?

Some signs, namely the physical ones, are easier to assess. Air drafts, malfunctioning electronics—these lend themselves to investigation, as they likely have a tangible source. Energetic and emotional occurrences, however, are more difficult to probe, given their invisibility and subjectivity.

I can’t always answer the counter-questions I pose, but I ask them anyway. Part of being a good social scientist is examining all other possible causes for an event. (Researchers are very averse to assigning causality!)

Level 2: Meaning and relevance of the message

After looking at the factual evidence, I then look at the meaning of the message. If it’s an object, for instance, what is its relevance to B? To me? If it’s a particular song playing at a meaningful moment—what song? At what moment? What does this all mean in the context of our relationship?

As I’ve observed, B’s messages and signs drip his style and personality: incredibly sweet, oftentimes hilarious, always deeply meaningful to the recipient. When he sends a sign, it’s like he was just in the room, his 100-watt smile beaming bright as he dropped off the gift himself.

Level 3: Feeling and intuition

Finally, I look at how I felt at the moment I received a message or sign. Did I sentiently feel my B, or mentally know that he was there? Often, it’s a resounding yes, but sometimes, I’m not sure. I don’t judge; I just observe and notice how I feel. There is also meaning in moments of uncertainty. (Uncertainty, for instance, could indicate lacking self-trust in one’s own intuition.)

It’s a constant back and forth of going out to seek objective answers, and then coming back into myself to listen to my intuition—my gut.

And so I ask: what is my gut telling me about the experience? Does the experience feel genuine, or does it feel forced? Is it authentic, or is it a stretch? To me, a stretch feels different than authenticity, even when an authentic experience is logically hard to believe.

Sure, a feeling of authenticity is inherently subjective. But in dealing with life and death—things we can’t necessarily measure or see—subjectivity might be good enough. In fact, we may just have a lot to learn from it.

Sure, a feeling of authenticity is inherently subjective. But in dealing with life and death—things we can’t necessarily measure or see—subjectivity might be good enough. In fact, we may just have a lot to learn from it.

It’s a dance

It’s a dance: navigating the longing to feel connection, against our desire for truth.

Ultimately, I’ve resolved that how a sign makes me feel is just as significant as what factually happened—if not more. When I found the stack of Swiss Francs, my B’s presence was all around me. As I picked up the coins and rolled them over in my palms, it wasn’t just that I wanted him to be there… Energetically, he was.

I’ve also found that throughout all the documenting, all the thinking—the most important part of receiving a message is just to enjoy it and send thanks. To turn his signs into a purely analytical exercise would discount their purpose. My B isn’t sending messages to give me work! He’s sending them to let me know that he’s here and he cares.

He wants to make sure I feel his love and guidance. And I do.*

Lenore Matthew, Ph.D., MSW

*As I sat on my bed writing this last sentence, there was a firm but gentle knock on the wooden headboard behind me. Hi, B.

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