I can still remember when I figured out the coins I found were because of my deceased father. It was about a year after his death and my then-husband and I took a trip to Florida. We were staying outside Orlando and dividing our time between Disney World and Ft. Myers Beach. The morning we were leaving, I walked out of the motel to put some things in the rental car when I spotted a penny on the pavement. Next to it was a hazelnut.
Growing up, we always had nuts around Christmas (the kind you had to crack, not the lazy way I buy them now already shelled in a bag) including hazelnuts. Dad was big into gardening and trees, once announcing to a new neighbor that he was the "neighborhood arborist," and we had a hazelnut tree in the backyard.
While we were waiting at the airport to board our plane to return to New Mexico, I found another penny. I'd never found coins before and now two in one trip.
Now I find about one a week, sometimes more. People think that because I find so many coins that I am looking down all the time. On the contrary, it's when I am not looking for them that I find them. My mind is usually focused on something else when I spot one. A few times they have been 1975 pennies, the year my deceased sister Denise was born. I know that those coins are from both of them, letting me know they are both with me. This past weekend I found a 1971 penny – the year that I was born.
What I don't know about the coins is what they mean. They could simply be my dad letting me know he is with me. I have a tendency to believe it's much more than that, and it's hard for me because living with the mysteries of life is a challenge for me. I want to know what's going to happen; I want to know what everything means.
I do know that they aren't coincidence. The times that I think they are, something always happens to whack me in the head and remind me that there is no coincidence. Everything, good, bad, and otherwise happens for a reason. While I often wish that a sticky note could be attached to each one that tells me what they are for, I know that's not reality. Life is about trusting and having faith.
Ultimately, the best part about finding them is simply that. I post the findings on Facebook and Twitter. I once thought I would stop because I it seemed kind of boring, but people tell me how much they enjoy reading about my findings. It reminds them of the mysteries of life and brings them happiness and hope that there is more to life than what we see around us.
Michelle Linn-Gust, Ph.D. has spent two decades educating people worldwide about coping with loss and change, and has served as president of the American Association of Suicidology. Her first book following her sister's death, Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Si..., inspired siblings around the world in their survival after a loved one’s suicide. She recently published her eighth book, Conversations with the Water: A Memoir of Cultivating Hope, chronicling her grief journey as she moves forward beyond the suicide and loss field. Learn more about Michelle at www.inspirebymichelle.com.