When I started to post my coin findings on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), I had no idea it would be of interest to so many people until I began to think it was boring and started to stop posting them. However, when I would talk to people, they told me how much they enjoyed reading about how I would find them. Some people said it made them smile and brought them a lot of hope because of my belief that the coins are being left by my dad who died in 2006.
For me, as my life has undergone a lot of transition for a number of years, the coins were a constant reminder that everything was well, that everything would work out, that my family members who have died were still with me. The coins sometimes brought tears to my eyes or simply brought me relief. They were the reminder I needed in the moments when I let my thoughts get carried away or I would forget what really mattered. They were symbols when I needed them.
Two months ago my life underwent a huge great transition when I unexpectedly was introduced to someone via a mutual friend and we began dating. It's been a happy shift in my life because I was on the verge of giving up, having a challenging time not being angry at how romantic relationships were something in which I couldn't find what I needed. Finally, I met someone who is secure, happy, and who appreciates me (among a million other wonderful things that I could say about him).
But as I have shared a lot of my life in my books and on this blog, that presents another change. I feel differently about the coins. At first when we started dating, I didn't find any and I thought it was fine because I didn't feel the need for them. Yet I couldn't stop picking them up when I saw them again. But when I picked them up I almost felt burdened by posting about them because they were now ... coins.
What I realized is that I don't need to collect them. Yes, they are important because they are my dad telling me he is with me. But many times lately I see them in places where it wouldn't be appropriate to pick them up (you would never see me crawling under a chair in the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to get to a dime). Never before have I seen so many coins that I wouldn’t pick up and take with me.
Still, I am not sure I can leave behind the ones I have seen, although I have done it a few times. It still feels a little disrespectful to leave behind – gasp! – a coin, although I have done it as a test to myself.
Instead, I believe that maybe I need to leave the coins behind for someone else. I get the acknowledgment that my dad is with me, happy that a part of my life that was challenged for so long is coming together, yet I don't need them in my hands. Maybe my dad is telling me he’s looking out for me but knows my life is good, and I only need the reminder, not the actual coin. They are for someone else who needs that hope, who needs something physical to hold onto to know that life is still great, even in the difficulties.
And for those people, the coins are yours for the taking. I'm leaving them for you.
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.