A day after her son’s death, a grieving mother spotted a monarch butterfly just 10 yards away from her. Recollecting someone saying a monarch could mean a sign of a loved one trying to connect, she requested it to land on her hand, and so it did.
“I was completely stunned,” Ann Brigham Chrudinsky, 58, told The Epoch Times via email. “I absolutely felt it was a sign from God.”
Chrudinsky, from the rural northern Wisconsin city of Tomahawk, lost her 23-year-old son, Ben, to suicide on July 3, 2019, after he’d had a hard battle with alcohol addiction and depression.
A day after his death, the mother of two couldn’t hold back her tears and was walking her dog in the evening when she saw a monarch butterfly floating away as the sun was casting a glow on everything.
As news of her son’s passing got around, a friend on Facebook had posted that seeing a monarch meant that a loved one was nearby. However, Chrudinsky chose to ignore the sentiment and thought that the person was just offering comforting words.
Choosing not to walk toward it, she instead said aloud: “If you’re with Ben, land on my hand,” and she raised her hand to above waist height, with a bent elbow, slightly away from her body.
“It flew directly over to my hand and landed,” Chrudinsky said.
Knowing that people might not believe her, Chrudinsky requested the butterfly to stay on her hand. After snapping two photos, she thanked the butterfly and it flew away.
Touched by what she witnessed, a tearful Chrudinsky shared the heartwarming episode with Ben’s former fiancee.
“I believe God allows those signs to help us through grieving,” Chrudinsky said. “Thank God for the beautiful signs and reminders he gives you.”
After this, she said, she never again had a similar experience with a butterfly.
Chrudinsky, who calls herself “a writer by design,” was raised in New London, Wisconsin. However, after a traumatic end to her marriage in 1998, she moved with her two sons to Northwoods to start anew. Over the years, she worked as a journalist for a regional daily newspaper, a managing editor of a weekly hometown newspaper, a general manager and advertising director of a newspaper, and a grant writer.
Chrudinsky shared a great bond with Ben. The two would go to the movies together, take walks, enjoy drawing and writing, and leave handwritten notes for each other expressing their love for each other.
Ben, as Chrudinsky describes, was extremely intelligent, a gifted artist, a self-advocate, a devoted son with a great sense of humor, and someone who loved his friends deeply.
However, by the time Chrudinsky learned about the depths of his addiction, “it was full-blown and destructive to his life,” she said.
“He entered some serious counseling and sought addiction treatment. His sobriety lasted two weeks, unfortunately, as he tried to ‘white knuckle it’ because, like any 23-year-old, he just wanted to be with his friends and lead a ‘normal’ life.”
Although he paid heed to his mother’s advice of balancing his gut microbiome, and even began to make progress in keeping away from drinking alcohol, as well as getting to bed on time and getting up before sunrise to work at a job he liked, he couldn’t keep at it for long and eventually spiraled out of control.
“I didn’t know he had started drinking heavily again until it was too late,” Chrudinsky said.
Since losing her son to suicide, Chrudinsky says it’s her “heart’s desire to keep families from having to endure the loss of a loved one to suicide because they feel there is no other escape.”
After her experience with the monarch butterfly, she urges people to pay attention to the little things that she refers to as “little signs” around them.
“The wind in the trees when there aren’t any other trees swaying, for example, or the dragonfly that seems to just hang around you for a long time before flying away … these things may be coincidence, but it’s comforting,” Chrudinsky said. “Take it, and don’t let anyone else tell you you’re just grasping at anything to hang onto a loved one.”