A True Story of Redbirds


My mother's death is a deep personal heartache. Mom left a folder labeled, "To be opened by my daughters after my funeral." In it, she had prepared two sympathy cards with personal messages for my sister and me. Yes, my mother gave sympathy cards to her daughters for her own death. She wanted her last message to us to be one of comfort and love.

Mom liked songbirds and especially cardinals. She called them redbirds. She often wore a cardinal pin on her coat collar and gave my sister and me beautiful cardinal figurines surrounded with carnations, the State of Ohio bird and flower.

On the night after the funeral, my sister wanted me to take a flower arrangement home, but they were all loaded in her van. It was dark in the van, so I asked Mom to choose one for me and pulled out a small arrangement without getting a good look at it.

When I got it home I was disappointed that it was not pink because pink was Mom's favorite color. Instead it was a planter of red carnations with a little teddy bear wearing a red hat. I placed the planter next to the cardinal figurine that Mom had given me and marveled at how well they complemented each other. Pink would not have looked as striking with the cardinal.

I have back yard bird feeders that I enjoy watching from the kitchen. The next morning, after feeding the birds, I had the courage to open Mom's final card to me. I was overwhelmed that she would prepare a sympathy card for me to mourn her own death and I sank to the floor in tears.

As I pulled myself up by the kitchen counter, I looked out the back door window and saw a flock of cardinals surrounding my feeders. Cardinals are independent birds and do not fly in large groups. You will not see more than two or four together, but there were 50 to 100 "redbirds" in my back yard. I have never seen so many cardinals in one place. They were beautiful, like red jewels sparkling through a gray winter day, and I know they were a gift from Mom.

Post Script: I continue to have cardinals in my daily life since I wrote the redbird story in 2006, although nothing matches the splendor of the original display. Now, whenever I see a cardinal, I smile and think of her. If all this is in my imagination, well, God gave us imaginations, too. All I know is that seeing a redbird eases my pain and I am grateful for a beautiful reminder of my mother's love.

From a poem by Oliver Hereford:

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December~
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.
"We are nearer to Spring
than we were in September,"
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December. 

Go to next page: Final Wish
The Grieving Heart is getting a new home...
Grief has no timetable, but the launch of a new website does: August 1, 2019.                                                                     
The updated design will be easy to use, secure and mobile-friendly.
Please visit again. Thank you!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

My E-mail:

Christine (at) The Grieving Heart (dot) info 

A Word About E-mail: One way to decrease SPAM caused by Internet bots is to deactivate the live address link. You can still contact me by typing this address into your own e-mail program using @, a period, and no spaces, the standard e-mail format. Thank you.

Note to Visitors:
I read and respond to grief email at the end of each month when I update this site. If you need a more timely response, please visit a well moderated grief healing discussion group. It is free to use and requires registration to participate. I am not part of this group, but certified grief counselors are there to help, support and comfort grievers and those who love them. Because the counselors lost funding for the site, they are grateful for voluntary donations.
Why no links to Facebook and other social media? Click here for the answer.   


How complicated and individual mending is,
the time required for healing
cannot be measured against any fixed calendar
Mary Jane Moffat
© Copyright 2008 - 2019 Christine Jette.
All rights reserved.