You Remind Me: People who remind us of our loved ones

Understanding Grief / Understanding Grief : Eleanor Haley

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Last night I watched ABC's special "The Untold Story of 'The Sound of Music.'" I stopped on the special because I thought it would be a harmless and happy break from the murder and deception of HBO's, The Jinx, which I had just finished watching.

I was wrong.

Remember when we told you that grief triggers tend to pop up when you least expect them? Well, thats exactly what happened when last night my delightful romp through Salzburg, Austria with Diane Sawyer and Julie Andrews turned into an hour long sob-fest.

I think I underestimated just how much my mind has confused Maria von Trapp, as played by Julie Andrews circa 1965, with my own mother.  Her short hair, her love of children, her guitar, her singing, her values and idealism - which 'her' am I talking about?  Doesn't matter, they're the same person!  I'm only slightly exaggerating.

It's remarkable how much I've allowed my mind to project my mother onto a woman I don't even know.  I guess maybe that's part of the reason why it works, Julie Andrews von Trapp is kind of a blank slate to me.  I don't know how it was in the days when she was front-and-center, but if she was a part of rumors or gossip or scandal it was way before my time. I don't have the usual tabloid fodder to prove she's anything but what I idealize my mother to have been.


I can tell some of you are starting to think I'm weird, but I'm not.  In fact at one point in the interview Diane Sawyer actually said to Julie Andrews something to the effect of, "You know, there are people on the internet who say they wish you were their mother."  For a second this made me think that Julie-Andrews-Mother-Envy was really a thing.

This morning I looked around the Internet to see if I could find anything about seeing your loved one in other people after they die.  Nothing turned up. Don't others have this experience?  Maybe I am weird.  It just seems to make sense that people would look for those they love and miss in the appearance, personality traits, values, abilities, roles and tendencies of others.

Of course, I'm familiar with the concept of yearning, which is a very common grief reaction.  After a death, we long for our loved ones and we wish it were possible to be reunited with them.  Although we intellectually know the person cannot return, we still search for them.  Yearning is typically most intense around 5 or 6 months following a loss and afterward it should lessen, but I suppose less is not the same thing as gone.

Even years after my mother's death I guess it makes sense to feel a small sense of yearning for her.  I have a cognitive understanding that she is gone, yet I still pine for the things were her.  I still know these things when I see them, although I rarely do (except when I see her identical twin....her identical twin and Julie Andrews).

It all reminds me of a sweet children's book by P.D. Eastman called 'Are You My Mother?'  Here is Wikipedia's synopsis...

"Are You My Mother?" is the story about a hatchling bird. His mother, thinking her egg will stay in her nest where she left it, leaves her egg alone and flies off to find food. The baby bird hatches. He does not understand where his mother is so he goes to look for her. As he cannot fly, he walks, and in his search, he asks a kitten, a hen, a dog, and a cow if they are his mother. They each say "No".

Refusing to give up, he sees an old car, which cannot be his mother for sure. In desperation, the hatchling calls out to a boat and a plane (they both do not respond), and at last, convinced he has found his mother, he climbs onto the teeth of an enormous power shovel. A loud "SNORT" belches from its exhaust stack, prompting the bird to utter the immortal line, "You are not my mother! You are a SNORT!" But as it shudders and grinds into motion he cannot escape. "I want my mother!" he shouts."


This isn't how the story ends, but it's the end for me.  Even though I know my mother is gone, on some level I always look for her.  I quietly think,"Are you my mother?"; but the answer is never yes.  I know I'll never find her, yet I still look in hopes that someone will come close enough to fool me for a little while.

I think it kind of makes sense to enjoy our loved one's qualities where ever we can find them.  It's even okay to enjoy them when they're embodied in someone else, so long as we always remember that the someone else is not and will never be our loved one.  I know most of us get this reality, but sometimes we subconsciously forget.

Have you ever heard of transference? Honestly it's a larger topic for another day, but I bring it up because one of the ways transference occurs is when we meet someone who reminds us of a person from the past and we unconsciously assume the new person has traits and characteristics similar to the person from the past.  Making assumptions about people based on perceived similarities sets everyone up for confusion and disappointment; especially when we know no one can live up to the memory of our loved one.

I guess this is all I have to offer at this point - sometimes we see people who remind us of our loved ones and it makes us sad.  I know that's not very helpful, but honestly I've only begun to think about this. I guess if you've had this experience, at least you know you're not alone.  That being said, I'd love to know if anyone else has any input on the topic. Please leave a comment below.

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80 Comments on "You Remind Me: People who remind us of our loved ones"

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  1. Sheila  December 17, 2023 at 3:01 pm Reply

    I have a male friend that has the exact same characteristics of my dad. Their groan when they’re tired. Their impatience. But both patient with me. Their temperament. How they both turn to marshmallow when they upset me. It’s so weird. And because of this I care for this friend. Like u would if it were ur loved one. He has an important spot n my heart cuz of how I he is so much like him. He doesn’t even know this. We’re not even that close. Were friends but not the typical everyday friend if u know what I mean? Basically we’re not that close for him to have a piece of my heart. Does that make sense? It’s so strange. I am weak around him. It makes me sad to even think about it. I wanna hug him but I can’t cuz it’s not my dad. I’m crying as I type this because how familiar it is. What do u do with this? The human brain is such a mystery. It is so hard for us to accept death. We know it’s coming but yet we can’t imagine or accept it. Or understand it period. We r a ball of energy that releases when we pass. So where is it that that energy goes? Energy doesn’t die and that’s where I’m at with that. Thank u for ur blog. I couldn’t find anything that I was trying to say in the Google search bar so I reworded it and u popped up. So thank u so much. And yes there are ppl that wonder the same exact thing. Maybe it’s them letting us know they’re still here watching over us or poking us kind of like “hey don’t worry I’m still here with u don’t u forget that I love u”. It makes sense. U have a great day.

  2. Levi  November 28, 2023 at 8:22 pm Reply


    Thank you sharing this with us.

    I am happy to know that there are people who have a similar experience. In my case, I take comfort in looking at people who happen to resemble certain loved ones I miss at a certain point in time, despite that fact that they have not passed away, but just happen to be far away, or too busy or not financially ready or well enough to remain close to each other much. There are some people I love but have not exchanged numbers before going separate ways in life as well. So look-alikes give me some kind of consolation, for lack of a better way of putting it.

    ❣️❣️❣️ Missing loved ones ❣️❣️❣️

  3. Aly  May 11, 2023 at 2:17 pm Reply

    Thankfully I am not the only one

  4. Janet  September 26, 2021 at 9:57 pm Reply

    I used to work at a place where I had a female supervisor. She reminded me of my Mom, whom I had lost in 2018, to Dementia, in many ways. Just like my Mom, her smile lit up a room, she never met a stranger and she had an offbeat sense of humor. If all of that wasn’t enough, she was feminine, yet, did not mind doing hard work which was the biggest similarity, of all. We were and still are good friends. However, if I ever feel like she has let me down, in any way, reality hits. She can never replace my Mom. The pain of losing my Mom hits me just like the moment I lost her. The darkest day of my life, by far. Even though I was surrounded by my Dad and Sister, it was like I was alone. Amazing how just about anybody or anything can trigger that grief inside of you. Just when you think you’re over it, a reminder appears.💔

  5. Marcie  August 18, 2021 at 8:42 am Reply

    I have a problem. I never knew I was grieving until I read here about transference. This happens to me with more than one person.

  6. Tasya  May 24, 2021 at 4:59 am Reply

    thank you. helped me.

  7. Donna  May 7, 2021 at 3:15 am Reply

    I know exactly how you feel my mother always reminded me of Julie Andrews in The Sound Of Music I guess because she took me to see it at the movies. I was 7. And my mother had an operatic voice like hers too so I can fully relate. And I understand the transference you write about because after my Mother passed I started to get close to a brother and sister who are now close friends and I just love their Mother. She calls me and we talk, she really reminds me of my Mother. In many ways. Why so quick to attach to someone else’s Mom. The fact we’re all Italian makes the resemblance of character and culture really comfortable and warm. And we’re all from the East coast so there’s a lot of Ayy Oohh going on. 🙂
    For however long this goes. We don’t know each other but a couple of years and the road will once again bend as it so often does in life. But in the meantime, thank you to the Ligotti’s for being my friends, thanks to you for writing such a honest article Ms Haley I actually read and reacted to.
    But most of all, thanks to my mom Angela, because her heart was blessed with the sound of music, I am able to sing once more…

  8. Annelize  May 1, 2021 at 8:40 pm Reply

    My aunt passed away in April in her sleep. Her memorial were on the April 28th. That same day when I was in town I saw a lady that looks the same as my aunt. I wanted to talk to her. But I was with my mother-in-law. But it was so strange and sad. I hope I can see the lady again.💐

  9. Carol  March 8, 2021 at 10:25 pm Reply

    My Mom has been dead for almost 3 years, now. Last year, we got a new boss who happened to be a woman. I felt very much drawn to her and did not know why. It took me a few months to realize why. She reminded me of my Mom, in many ways. Her mannerisms, her offbeat sense of humor and her sweet nature, in general. I told her about it all and she told me that she could never replace my Mom. Sadly, she was right, but, for a while, it felt like my Mom was communicating with me through her. Thank you for telling your story and helping me to realize that I was and am not alone. For that matter, not losing my mind, just yearning to be close to my Mom, whom I will miss for the rest of my life!😢😇

    • Ms HF  May 7, 2021 at 7:53 pm Reply

      I’m so glad I read this. I had an experience of seeing my father in another man – actually seeing his features but it was semi unconscious. A weird thing where I just saw the resemblance and went, oh there’s Dad, but also tried to help this man who had suffered a lot. Dad had died over 25 years before it happened. I was in the first stages of my marriage breakdown which was really hard. I felt abandoned. My kids had grown up and I didn’t know what my life would be now. I met a man who was similarly life-scarred to my father who had left when I was ten and was a WWII veteran. Dad also had a bad childhood with little parental emotional support. This man was from a country beset by violent conflict and he’d had family members killed and many other difficult experiences. We shared stories and somehow I started to gaze at him searching for Dad, who I rarely saw after age ten. Some of his features did resemble Dad but it was just subtle things. But I also was relating to him as himself as well. So complex. I think I had unresolved feelings that I projected onto this man who needed help. Unfortunately it became more complicated when I realised this poor man had one of the most serious mental health conditions you can have. This was a disaster, but what I did learn is that I needed to better understand the sense of loss and grief and also come to terms with the neglect I had suffered as a child so that I didn’t have this confusion again.

  10. James Conner  January 7, 2020 at 10:23 am Reply

    Yes I have had this about six months now ,she’s been gone 18 months.. but recently iv seen a few women that remind me of my one true Love who passed away three brain tumors and a tumor on her lung suddenly. She had a seizure one day out of nowhere no signs of sickness 18 days later she was gone, she passed away the day after our daughter’s 8th birthday to my daughter she feels like it was on her birthday after seeing her mother carried out by an ambulance and paramedics the day of her birthday and her party worst birthday ever for my baby girl. well this morning I took my daughter to school I was headed back home look up to check the traffic pull out on the highway do the sun shining through this Yukon there was a lady with ponytail and a hat reminded me of my love she passed by I stared at the vehicle and thought man that reminded me of my love when I got on the highway I started breaking down I had to pull over I love her I miss her but I’m starting to see her and other people she was a beautiful person inside and out.

    • James Conner  January 7, 2020 at 10:36 am Reply

      It’s James Conner again I meant to mention this experience made me pull over n find ur site ty for having it . Have a blessed day

  11. Reggie  October 25, 2019 at 7:30 pm Reply

    I recently had an experience that was deeply unsettling and caused me to find your site at 2:30 AM. I went to the cell phone lot at Tampa International Airport to wait for some friends arriving that afternoon. After I parked, I looked around at the other vehicles and saw a young woman close by that looked identical to my daughter who died 28 months ago! Her hairstyle and coloring, her profile, the way she moved her head and her hand that she placed on the door frame looked exactly like my Suzy. I immediately had a frightened, yet warm feeling in the pit of my stomach. I couldn’t stop looking at her and wanted to get out of my vehicle, walk over to her, and talk with her. I had such a strong urge to be close to her and yet I talked myself out of going to her because I thought she might think it was creepy. I have thought of her for days and the first night was unable to sleep …. that’s when I found this “whatsyourgrief” site. After reading others comments,I’m disappointed at myself for the lost opportunity to connect with her. I keep feeling like I want to go back to the cell lot, that perhaps I’ll see her again, yet I know that’s crazy. I do know that if I ever see her again, I will say something. Thank you all for your messages.

  12. Anna  September 14, 2019 at 3:33 pm Reply

    My daughter took her life in a very public way on December 13th 2014. My life fell apart but I kept going. I wanted to live out my life as I wished she had, mainly for the sake of my surviving daughter.

    Yesterday I was invited to the home of a new friend. It is our third meeting, one meeting being a lovely meal on her birthday with my surviving daughter. She is someone my surviving daughter met through friends and she is the same age, near as unusually tall and has that same special twinkle I mourned so much in my daughter who died. She is stunningly like my daughter who has passed on. It is very shocking.

    This young woman is not my daughter and I don’t see her as a second chance. She is simply a gift from the universe. My surviving daughter has been smiling again like she used to and I am making better progress now with my health since meeting this young woman.

    I am not a Christian but I think there are a certain number of spirits.. (probably 144.000 as mentioned in scripture) and these spirits are of a design we don’t understand as yet but can carry similar looks.

  13. Kat  August 12, 2019 at 4:42 pm Reply

    My marriage is currently being violently ripped apart because my wife has found someone who reminds her of her late girlfriend. She met this person just 2 weeks after rhe 13th anniversary of her girlfriend’s murder. She was vulnerable, she shared part of the story and maybe even confessed the resemblence. This “clone” us a deciving manipulator and pounced on this and has been manipulating my wife and the situation and her vulnerable mental status ever since. My wife is in the midst of transference with the memory of the lost lover and the new copy and is trying to make a 2nd chance happen, but is also in denail this is what is going on. And this person is manipulating the situation and taking advantage. And I am on the outside, for now, unable to stop this very unhealthy situation.

  14. Jen Lyman  June 13, 2019 at 11:23 am Reply

    Something I learned from a grief seminar shortly after losing my younger brother almost 10 years ago: “When we lose a loved one, the universe brings other people to us with the same attributes and/or qualities as they had to remind us of them and to comfort us.”

  15. Anna  May 21, 2019 at 10:40 pm Reply

    So, I’m having a wonder affair with a man I’ve admired since I met him year ago. When I look into his eyes, I see my grandmother. At other times, I see my grandfather. It’s all so bizarre, but so amazing at the same time. It makes no sense, but at the same time, I think I love him more because he’s so much of all I loved as a child. Childhood is so very impactful, and something it takes a lot of courage to admit to, but something we forever long for.
    Sending love to all.

  16. Marcy Empson  April 5, 2019 at 3:45 am Reply

    In 2012 I found out that my high school sweetheart had died in a motorcycle accident. We were never intimate but I believed he was my soulmate. I still think of him often to this day. A couple weeks ago I was browsing some my friend Levi’s friend on Facebook and found this guy who could the twin of my high school sweetheart and lives in the state I used to live in.

    • carl vanny  April 6, 2019 at 10:22 am Reply

      great and kind man who help me reunite my relationship and restored happiness back to my relationship gbojiespiritualtemple@ gmail . com

  17. Astra Parker  January 31, 2019 at 9:33 pm Reply

    I’m 13 and I recently just lost my best friend to a drowning accident. Tonight at practice I met this boy and I tell you it was my best friend’s soul in a different body… like everything about this boy was the same. He made me so happy and so sad at the same time… but, I think for a while I was happy for the first time in months since my best friend’s death. I thought it was weird… but obviously it’s not. I really need this guy to be my friend lol.

  18. Salena Guerra  January 24, 2019 at 3:24 am Reply

    I’m glad I found this article, because today by far was one of the most craziest moments I’ll never forget. I work at supercuts and meet lost of new people every day. Today this older gentleman sat in my chair for a haircut we started chatting and were making great conversation and as he stared to open up his personality and sense of humor started to remind me a lot of my father who had passed away 3 years ago. I told the gentleman he reminded me of my dad that had passed away a few years ago. he was very sentimental about it and even though joking said he could be my father if I needed one. As I finished his haircut I took off the cutting drape and noticed he was wearing the same kind of shirt my dad was notorious of wearing. You didnt see too many people with this shirt anymore so it immediately caught my attention. As I fixed his collar I could smell him, he smelled just like my dad. I couldn’t fight the tears any longer. I placed my hand on his shoulder and just froze as the tears rolled down my cheeks. He placed his hand on mine and looked me in the eye and said I believe I was here for a reason. I was just speechless. He got up and gave me the biggest bear hug. I didnt want to let go. No one else was in the salon at that moment and truly feel like god allowed that to happen so we could share this moment together. When we finally let go I could see tears running down his face and he looked at me and said I dont know your past but I want you to know you are truly one of a kind dont ever change. You keep doing what your doin and keep putting smiles on people’s faces because you have a beautiful personality that is so hard to find. After he said that I knew he knew what I was feeling and I just cried some more. It was an unforgettable moment that will stay with always.

  19. Angel  January 17, 2019 at 6:25 pm Reply

    Princess Diana reminds me so much of my mom….I couldn’t explain why until I read this article. Thank you so much for this.

  20. Beverly  October 30, 2018 at 12:39 am Reply

    This past January I lost my husband of 35 yrs , he was my best friend. He was my protector. He was such a fun person in so many ways.
    There was nothing I needed or wanted that he did not provide for me. My plans for me was to retire at age 65 but with him being lonely and early stage of alzheimer I decided to retire 3 years early just be able to be there for him. With his passing, it’s taken a told on me, I just cant seem to dry my eyes. I did not want to leave the house. I cut myself off from everyone . Stop going to church because we attended church very regular and he was so loved be everyone there. I just did not know what would happen to me it I did not get out and mingle. SO
    A few months ago I reconnected with my high school sweet heart . We dated in our senior year of HS and two yrs thereafter which was 45 years ago. He has brought me so much joy in my life during my time of grief. My sister tells me that she has noticed my joy and is happy for me.
    His ways are so much like my deceased husband it scars me. He and my husband share the same birthday, their New Year babes.
    He’s never married and is currently caring for this ailing mother. We’ve been dating now for eight weeks.
    It scars me at times because he says some of the same things that my deceased husband would say. He dresses like my husband , he’s tall like my husband , his cologne is fresh like my husband and he’s 6feet like my husband. He drives the same make pickup truck as my husband.
    He’s so patient with me when I’m having my moments. (crying) .
    I just want to know what is happening with me. Is this or could this be a strong sprit of my dear husband that GOD as given back to me.
    Please , can anyone elaborate on this . Please be honest .

    • Ebony  April 16, 2019 at 11:48 am Reply

      Yes Beverly. It is. I’m going through it now. My mothers Spirit is back? it’s overwhelming and hard to contain and you don’t want to tell people that are strong Believers in God. Look for the signs and Trust your immediate feeling thereafter. God will reprove it to the point where it cannot be denied and every time you try to deny it God will reprove it to you even more. It’s the best thing ever it will feel good and it will be good embrace it it’s hard to embrace but the way I know for sure if I cannot look into her eyes without looking directly at my mother it’s chilling. When she look into his eyes that immediate feeling go with it.

  21. Betty  October 11, 2018 at 2:47 am Reply

    Hello everyone. Eleanor, one of your quotes made much sense to me…
    ” I know I’ll never find her, yet I still look in hopes that someone will come close enough to fool me for a little while.”
    I believe sometimes we project certain traits of individuals out of what we’re feeling, in my case the void I believe I have only this person knew how to fill.

    My first boyfriend, was this gorgeous italian man. He worshiped me. I broke it off as my family wasn’t fond of him. His family was tied to not the best of business in life. He always followed me around for years to come, even if I was in a relationship or whatever he never stopped coming around and making sure I was okay. The last time I spoke with him he mentioned to me he would always wait for me, for whenever I wanted to come back.

    The week of his death, I meant to reach out to him, because I was yearning to have him fill that void, sort of worship feeling he made me feel. Days later I received a call, letting me know he was shot dead.

    I feel remorseful of not being able to speak to him one more time. Didn’t have the nerve to go to his funeral, though I visited his grave a few times to part ways. Every time I feel most alone I cannot help but think of him.
    Have been feeling very upset and especially miss him when things are not exactly going right and I find myself alone.

    My life is pretty settled for the most part. Yet the other day I was at the gym, and I couldn’t help but glance over to some guy staring at me with his same look, face, build, facial hair. I absolutely froze feeling encountered by this supernatural being. Other times I’ve experienced this feeling yet I wasn’t necessarily on emotional terms. He has passed away in 2012.

    I appreciate remembering him, or even living a lie for a couple seconds, part of me still misses the nuisance of him looking out for me even after we broke up. Will this ever go away, and how can I have it not affect me as bad as it is. I made lasagna and thought of his mom, who is also deceased. How can I make this better, I live an okay life with my fiance and son and my fiance has noticed something is wrong.

    kindest regards


  22. Cynthia  September 19, 2018 at 11:47 pm Reply

    It does happen from time to time, yes! I experienced this again just today, when I saw a woman bent over (facing the road) and weeding her lawn while I was stopped at a red light just a kilometre from my house. The highlights and cut of her hair, her build, the energy with which she moved: all reminded me of my mother, who loved gardening, whom I lost in November 2011.

    Thank you for writing about this.

  23. Jonathon Clark  June 7, 2018 at 9:16 pm Reply

    I saw someone look at me the same exact way my dad used to all the time on the day after he passed away. I know it was him. Its bittersweet yo the max. I’ve also reminded many different people of deceased loved ones..theres definitely something to all of this.

  24. Rea  October 20, 2017 at 8:47 am Reply

    You are not alone in this. My mother passed away 10 months ago and lately I have been experiencing this – I see women around her age that have some of her characteristics, sometimes very small mannerisms, the way she walked, or how she smiled, things like that. I see elderly women who resemble her in some way and think „that could have been her one day“. It’s all very painful. I worry that my seeing her in so many things is a sign that I’m not doing this grief thing right. It’s like a dagger to the heart every time.

  25. Rea  October 20, 2017 at 8:47 am Reply

    You are not alone in this. My mother passed away 10 months ago and lately I have been experiencing this – I see women around her age that have some of her characteristics, sometimes very small mannerisms, the way she walked, or how she smiled, things like that. I see elderly women who resemble her in some way and think „that could have been her one day“. It’s all very painful. I worry that my seeing her in so many things is a sign that I’m not doing this grief thing right. It’s like a dagger to the heart every time.

  26. Teri Farkas  August 7, 2017 at 11:09 am Reply

    I had the most unbelievable experience just last night. I am 53 yrs old. My brother passed away 2 years ago (one week shy of his 49th birthday). My father had passed suddenly 7 months prior to him on top of that. I now have my mother living with me and she is currently in the hospital for the 2nd time in 2 weeks. Her health is poor and slowly declining. Life has been very stressful recently and I haven’t been dealing with it very well. Anyway, last night while out with friends, a gentleman that looked EXACTLY like my brother except older (like if he would have lived longer), walked right past me. We made instant eye contact and I swear it was my brother letting me know that he SEES me. I immediately got the shivers and goosebumps when we looked at each other, prompting my friend to ask me what was wrong. When I told her that this person looks just like my brother, she caught a glimpse of him as well and had the same reaction. As I tried to grasp what I had just experienced, I tried to find him in the crowd, but it was too dark and I could not find him again. I keep replaying it over and over in my head and still don’t know what to think. However, I found the situation was comforting to me after my initial response. Has anyone else ever experienced this???

  27. Melissa  November 2, 2016 at 6:53 pm Reply

    Oh my.. I see lots of ladies like at grocery stores and some look at me like they know me. My mother has passed away when I was 8 and I’m now about to be 28y/o.. sometimes I want to tell them they look or just remind me of my mom. But not sure if that’s a great idea.. honestly I didn’t grieve long. Because I was so young so I learned to accept that my mother was gone. So the days I’m at the store, I did not have my mother on my mind or have thought about her that week . So can it be my mom trying to contact me or something. I love my mom but I learned to live without her. I do think of her, so my last couple sentences seemed kinda mean. Didn’t mean to sound that way. But please explain and help me figure this out. Or if I sound tell the ladies. lol I have tattoos and I’m afraid they won’t talk to me cause lots of people ignore me and I’m thinking it’s cause the tats. I’m very nice tho.

  28. Bindy  July 19, 2016 at 8:48 pm Reply

    I totally related to this, My dad died when I was eight.
    This year it’s the tenth anniversary and I found that one of my teachers reminds me of him. He has the same interests and kind of looks like him, I always feel like I’m weird to feel that way towards that person.

    I really enjoy talking to him as it feels as if I have my dad back but I’m scared of now losing that figure in my life. I just actually want to get over it but some reason I can’t, I even wish I had never met him as it’s that difficult for me!

  29. Char  April 19, 2016 at 7:12 am Reply

    Dear Love, you are not alone. Shortly after my dad died several years ago, I was in the car stopped at a red light. I looked in the rear view mirror at the driver in the car behind me. I saw my father’s face. It is shocking when it happens, but I saw the look on his face and felt comforted knowing he was okay and letting me know that. Yesterday, the same thing happened out of the blue, but it was my mother’s face. My mom died many years ago and while I know she was around, I never felt her presence as strongly maybe because I was in such deep grief. Grief counseling has helped me tremendously so I’m more open to messages from her. But, the difference with seeing my mom’s face is that I was so shocked and unprepared, that I didn’t take comfort and wondered if she appeared for a specific reason.

  30. Love  February 11, 2016 at 10:23 pm Reply

    I lost my father a year ago. I was in a crowded subway this morning and a man was walking toward me very briskly – i glanced at him quickly from afar and saw my fathers face. I had not been thinking about My dad at all today – it just happened out of the blue. I looked down in disbelief and as the stranger drew near, he did not resemble my father at all. I kneeled down to tie my shoe and was overwhelmed by sadness. How could my mind play tricks on me or was it really my father giving me a sign? This milli second of a scenario left me with an unrelenting sense of grief all day.

  31. Megan R  February 11, 2016 at 10:22 am Reply

    I am a sibling, who lost her sister, now faced with being the person her husband and his family are saying “holding you is holding her,” and “You’re all I’ve got left of her,” and “You’re the closest thing I have to her,” and “When I look into your eyes I’m looking into hers.” She has a son. He looks identical to her.

    If you cannot tell, I am angered by this. I am overwhelmed by this, I have my own grief, so much grief, as this was a shock to everyone. I have my parents to think of, I have her son, I swear I want to go out, dye my hair a strange color and change the color of my eyes because to me, it’s like they’re not focusing on her. It’s to me, as if they’re just doing something that feels wrong to me. To me.

    I get it grief is an animal. It changes, there are nights where I want to rip my clothes scream punch and kick like a child throwing a hissy fit over something I really want but can’t have. Then there are days i feel like a zen master, filled with peace, surrounded by glory and beauty.

    Then there is a constant pounding and squeezing sensation in my chest that does not yet permit me to be a functioning part of society. I swear my patience is all but evaporated.

    I have no clue what to say when they do this. I almost feel like I shouldn’t be around them because for me, I have to accept she is gone. And the idea I could replace her is angering to me. I want NO ONE to do that.
    I hope this makes sense. The wound is very fresh of her loss. It just happened last week.

    I love this forum, podcast and blog. It’s a blessing for me.

    • Nicole  February 11, 2016 at 11:04 am Reply

      First off, I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my brother for an a half years ago. I can relate to a lot of what you are saying. I felt like my family (my dad in particular) was trying to replace my brother with me. The morning phone calls, the wishes to do the things that they used to do, everything. My parents are divorced and my dad and I never had a great relationship. My brother was the one that kind of held us all together. It was a very hard thing to go through… Wanting to be my own person and finding a way to grieve the loss of my brother. There wasn’t anyone I could talk to that truly understood how I felt, and still do feel. I can appreciate your description of how grief affects you because I feel that way, too. It is definitely a choreographed dance, that doesn’t always come together the way I’d like.

      If you are ever looking for another resource, I am a moderator of an online sibling loss support group. We also have a Facebook page. We are called Mourning Our Brothers and Sisters (MOBS for short).

      Much love to you.

  32. Shane  November 15, 2015 at 2:34 pm Reply

    I also have been searching the Internet about grief and continually seeing people who resemble a deceased loved one – Except for this article, I’ve found little to explain or describe this phenomena.

    My story is a little different- about 3 years ago I started a decline into the world of addiction and poor mental health. Along my side, was a great friend. Apart from the addiction and deepening depression, Joseph had excellent qualities – he was charming, had an acute sense of humor, musically gifted, very genorous and kind; but most of all, I remember this twinkle in his eyes, that always gave me hope.

    While we were using buddies as well, and codependent, which was an unhealthy component of our relationship, once every character defect and harm done to us in childhood was discussed, we would discuss getting sober. Sobriety was the only way we would truly heal.
    At some point in time, I set aside the fear, the ego, the pain, and the addicted voice in me that says “you can’t live without this substance”, and took the leap of faith into the journey of recovery.
    Sadly, for whatever reason, Joseph did not leap with me. At first, I tried tenaciously to get him to join my journey. There was always an excuse. Then, I had to cut out the personal visits. It was too dangerous for me to be around an active user. Our friendship was existed only through texts and his phone calls of desperation and pleads for help. Unfortunately, he couldn’t take my suggestions or do what I did to get sober.
    About a year and a half into my journey, I realized I hadn’t heard from him for a while. I instantly had this feeling that there was a small vacuum in my life – a microscopic black hole that only I could feel. My intuition was right – he had died from an overdose two weeks prior.
    It was sudden – I felt like I was in an emotional elevator that stopped unexpectedly. I was now greiving many radical changes in my life – the loss of my drug of choice, the death of a previous life, and the death of a friend.
    While I will never know why Joseph couldn’t take that leap of faith, why the disease of addiction and depression was particularly strong in him, and why bad things take ahold of good people, I do know this – we all have darkness and light in us. Chia light shined through his music, his smile, his humor, and that bright twinkle in his eyes. He couldn’t see it – but I could.
    I ocassionally still see and hear Joseph in the most unexpected places and times: guy walking around the corner of the grocery store isle wearing his glasses and twinkly eyes, a guy smoking a cigarette waiting to cross an intersection, or hear his unique laughter across the room in a loud coffee shop.
    While it might be projection, or whatever, I feel it is his way of saying, “Keeping doing the deal” and “I don’t know how you stay sober, but it looks like it’s worth it”.

  33. Claudia  April 21, 2015 at 12:15 pm Reply

    Thanks for sharing this with your readers! I am sure most can relate. My experience has been that it’s not just people that bring up memories but places, cars, tv shows, music. Death is never easy to deal with and everyday there is usually something that triggers a strong memory. I have also found that it’s extremely helpful to read a blog or talk with someone who has gone through something similar; it makes you feel less alone. I want to recommend the book “Love Never Dies: How to Reconnect and Make Peace with the Deceased” by Dr. Jamie Turndorf( This book is a phenomenal resource for anyone struggling with the grief of losing someone. Dr. Turndorf truly understands the feeling of loss and it is conveyed through each lovingly written page. She lost her husband to a bee sting while on vacation and has used this book to help heal and to help others. What I love most is that the book guides the bereaved to say hello not good-bye, THIS is the key to transforming grief to joy. I hope you and your readers will give it a read

  34. Sarah  April 10, 2015 at 6:59 pm Reply

    Yes, Mom had a story of a guy on the T shouting “Julie Andrews! Julie Andrews!” I avoided watching the special — I think partly because the Julie Andrews/Mom connection is a little too bittersweet. It doesn’t help that she plays the guitar! I know we have an original of the photo. I think it was one John came across on an old slide that was at Flo’s. I’m on the site now because I just watched Wild with Reese Witherspoon, who totally reminds me of you! Also, it’s all about grief, if you haven’t seen it yet. Do people ever tell you that? For Beth, it’s always Julia Stiles.

    • Eleanor  April 15, 2015 at 9:16 am Reply

      Sarah, yes I do get that once in a while! She made a movie when she was like 13 and thats when I used to hear that the most. I have seen Wild. Actually we did a podcast specifically dedicated to talking about it we liked it so much. 🙂

  35. Velma  April 8, 2015 at 1:59 am Reply

    I was quite taken with the resemblance between your mother & Julie Andrews as Maria…. I lost my mother when I was 38- she was 64… when I hear someone sing in the country style she sang, I cry. When I sing alto range at church, I hear her voice & I cry …. Sometimes I hear my daughter singing, too, in her sweet, light voice & I cry …. I lost her when she was 11 & I was 34 – sometimes I would see a slim young girl with long blonde hair & think it was her …. I lost my dad when he was 80 & I was 54… even then, he seemed too young to go ….. I took care of my maternal grandma with Alzheimer’s in her last years & she died in my arms, 2 yrs after my daughter…. I look forward to seeing them again, one day in Heaven, but for now, I miss them…. very much …. Your article & all these posts have touched my heart. Thank you for this post.

    • Linda Rubano  April 8, 2015 at 8:29 am Reply

      It’s not so much people, but music that reminds me of my special man. I grew up in the 60s and lately there have been so many commercials that use the music from that era. I can be having a good day but suddenly hear a song that takes me back in time. Those songs send me into a tailspin and I end up in a very bad place.

  36. Andrea  March 23, 2015 at 10:15 am Reply

    This is my first time on your blog. I follow An Inch of Gray and saw the link. I lost my son, my daughter-in-law and my 2 year old grandson seven months ago today.

    I have not seen a particular person that looks like my son but I see strangers occasionally from a distance that give me a start. But in my son’s teen years he used to draw and leave me funny drawings and messages on my refrigerator for me to find when I got up and one of my favorites was “Are you my mother?” I did not even know it was a book until today! He drew the very cartoon of the bird standing on the dog’s head and left it for me on my refrigerator when he was about 14 years old. I almost passed out when I saw it on this post. Thank you!

    • Eleanor  March 23, 2015 at 7:01 pm Reply

      Oh my gosh, really? That’s such a sweet memory and how funny and coincidental that he used to draw illustrations from this book. I’m glad Anna brought you to us, even if for that reason only 🙂

  37. Patrick  March 22, 2015 at 9:44 am Reply

    I enjoy seeing the picture of your mom and Julie Andrews:) Thank you for sharing this experience of pining for our mother. I see this built into my nervous system and I have found comfort with seeing many people around me “being” a motherly presence. I too have sobbed uncontrollably in movies and at times when something “triggers” this emotional desire to connect with Mom.

    • Eleanor  March 23, 2015 at 9:10 am Reply


      I can relate to you saying that you find comfort with seeing many people “being” a motherly presence. I have really gravitated towards the concept of “mother” and being “motherly” even though my specific mother is gone, what she embodied is still here.


  38. Beth  March 21, 2015 at 10:11 am Reply

    My daughter was stillborn at 37 weeks due to medical negligence. There are some times I see little girls that would be about her age and look like I’m pretty sure she would and I have to leave. When I see these girls I am not reminded of what was, but what will never be.

    • Snowygirl  March 21, 2015 at 10:20 am Reply

      Beth, I just wanted to steer you toward a resource I found on Facebook: CarlyMarie. She has an extremely supportive and understanding community and she creates beautiful art which you may like to use to memorialize your daughter. I am sorry for your loss, and I hope the future brings brighter days for you.

    • Eleanor  March 23, 2015 at 9:06 am Reply


      That makes a lot of sense, how could you not think that way?? I’m so sorry about your sweet baby girl.


  39. Mary Kate Cranston  March 21, 2015 at 6:24 am Reply

    Hi Eleanor. Your post is amazing! From the idea that it’s possible to be doing something routine that unexpectedly turns into a grief trigger to all of the feelings about your Mom, you are right on the money. You have thankfully confirmed for us that when yearning for deceased loved ones and grief triggers happen that it is normal. You’re right about the fact that when it happens it doesn’t feel normal. No, it doesn’t feel normal at all. After my husband died, it really felt as though I was losing it when these things would happen to me. I appreciate you opening up about you wonderful Mom and sharing what happened to you. It helps a lot to read about the grief experiences that make us feel so vulnerable. Thank you!

    • Eleanor  March 23, 2015 at 9:05 am Reply

      Thanks Mary Kate!!

      It is really reassuring to me to know that this is something so many other people have experienced. Grief is so funny, isn’t it? Sometimes I worry maybe I’m just being dramatic, but I don’t think so. People don’t just disappear from our lives. If they were important, they follow us around. It makes sense these things would happen even years later.


  40. Elaine Ferguson  March 20, 2015 at 7:46 pm Reply

    Hi Eleanor, me again. If my memory serves me right someone saying that actually chased your Mom off the T as she got off to walk towards Wheelock. Now that was scary. I think anyone would have said that is who she looked like at the time. Ask your Dad. You would think I would have more pictures of Evelyn, but most I have are of the two of us together. I don’t remember seeing this picture and it really is special. I would like a copy if possible. Thanks, your mom’s other look alike. I don’t like to wear hats because they cover up my long hair and lack of bangs. Our hair was the way Evelyn and I made sure we looked different. If I am wearing a hat and I look in a mirror I see my twin and it makes me really sad. I was never told I looked like Julie Andrews. Sometimes I wonder if seeing me, or hearing my voice, which is so much like Evelyn’s, hurts your family a little bit. By the way, Is this the proper forum for me to post a personal message like this? Perhaps I should have e-mailed you instead.

    • Eleanor  March 23, 2015 at 8:50 am Reply

      Oh my gosh, I can just imagine her getting chased off the T. I think I will ask Dad…I’m sure he will say oh absolutely. In fact, I seem to remember one of my siblings saying something to that effect in the not so distant past. I will look into who has a copy of the picture. Not that a copy matters, I can send you an electronic copy I’m jut not totally sure of the quality.

      That must be such a strange/tough feeling to look in the mirror and see Mom. I started putting together information to write something about twin grief, I understand this is such a unique yet common experience for twins. I can only imagine. I totally understand your worries about being a reminder of Mom, but honestly we could all use a few more reminders of her. The acute hurt, for me at least, is gone and I wish I could hear her voice or see her face. And if you’re okay posting here, then it’s the proper forum!!! I feel like people here already know way more than they’d like about me 🙂

      I do hope we get to see you all again soon. I’m sure there will be an excuse this summer.

  41. Tricia Forbes  March 20, 2015 at 4:27 pm Reply

    I have this happen all the time! I lost Todd, the man of my dreams in 2013 to cancer after only having 16 months with him. The look alikes appeared almost immediately. I would see them in cars, trucks on the street every where! And it’s not like he could be mistaken easily. Todd had a specific look – he always wore a baseball cap and had a white gotee. I never realized that there were so many men out there with that look until after he died.
    There was one time in particular that I saw a look alike that I will never forget. When Todd was alive we would go shopping on Fridays at Food Lion for his elderly grandfather. I found myself in Food Lion on a Friday one year almost to the day of his death. I was walking around the store when I spotted him – the look alike. I stopped dead in my tracks. The baseball cap, the white gotee, jeans and he was pushing a grocerey cart. He was even the same build and height! I couldn’t help myself, I followed him around for a few minutes. I pulled out my cell and looked through the pictures till I found one of Todd. That’s when I found myself going up to this look alike. I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him if I could show him something. He smiled and said sure. I showed him the picture of Todd. For a moment he was silent and then he smiled looking a little surprised and confused. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. “I lost him a year ago” I choked out. He touched my arm and said, “I’m sorry”. I just nodded and continued on my way as fast as I could get out of there till I reached my car. There I had a good cry and secretly waited till the look alike came out and loaded his groceries in his truck.
    So no you are def not the only one who sees “them”.
    I try to think of “them” as somehow a way our loved ones lets us know that they too are thinking of us. Because to me it seems like they show up just when I am thinking about Todd. It’s does seem odd and weird, I know. But with grief, death and the live after death there is a lot we still don’t understand. But I do believe our loved ones communicate with us if we take the time to listen and see. I think the look alikes are one of those ways. So don’t be sad when you seem them be happy, it could be your loved one letting you know they miss you too.

    • Snowygirl  March 20, 2015 at 4:36 pm Reply

      I am so glad I am not the only one who does a stop and stare!

    • Eleanor  March 23, 2015 at 8:44 am Reply


      Wow, what an incredible story. I like your take on this…that some of these things happen for a reason. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  42. Kiri  March 20, 2015 at 2:02 pm Reply

    Love it when some of my favourite blogging worlds collide!

  43. Elaine Ferguson  March 20, 2015 at 12:02 pm Reply

    Eleanor, In 1965 when your mother Evelyn was a junior in High School and for quite a few years after people would see her and always tell her how she looked like Julie Andrews, especially on the T when she was at Wheelock college. I myself can NEVER see Julie Andrews without thinking the same thing. That you had such an emotional, gut reaction doesn’t seem at all weird to me. Sigh, I wish I had a copy of that picture of Evelyn you posted.

    • Eleanor  March 20, 2015 at 12:17 pm Reply

      Did they really?? Wow I never knew that. It’s weird because I didn’t know my mom at 28 (the age Julie Andrews was in the movie), but there just something so similar. I can probably print you copy of the picture if you don’t have one?!? I think someone in the Davies family has the original.

  44. Shan  March 20, 2015 at 2:23 am Reply

    Yes! My friends grandson, whom I just recently met, looks so much like my son, he passed away in 2013. When I first saw him my heart melted. All my friends agree that he looks so similar

  45. Linda Rubano  March 19, 2015 at 10:33 pm Reply

    My mother loved Julie Andrews and seeing her on the show made me think about a time when life was so much better. I miss those days so much.

    • Eleanor  March 20, 2015 at 12:15 pm Reply


      I completely agree. I felt the same way.


      • Snowygirl  March 20, 2015 at 4:34 pm

        I believe this might qualify as a secondary loss! When I miss certain people, I am flung back to a time where, ironically, people seemed so much nicer, more approachable, that if I lost that person not only would there be support there would be a substantial number of people to replace them. I do not mean this in a callous, “call Central Casting and get me a _____type”. way! Men were more decent; they groomed themselves better and dressed more formally. People didn’t meet you at a Laundromat or diner and want to discuss intimate details of your love life– or share theirs! The people I grew up around were straightforward; if someone didn’t like you, you knew it. They did not wait, and schmooze, for months or years to put a “knife in your back”. I get… furious, frantic and MISERABLY lonely because not only do I miss critical people, but I can’t hop into a Time Machine and go back to an era.

      • Eleanor  March 23, 2015 at 8:45 am


        I know what you mean. My mom represents a certain mindset that I don’t encounter that often every day and, frankly, sometimes I feel I need a little more of in my life.


  46. Candice  March 19, 2015 at 9:27 pm Reply

    I can totally relate. I saw my dad’s cousin who lives in another state. He was unaware of my dad’s passing until he dropped by that day. (double whammy ) Seeing someone who has many of the same features as your loved one -PLUS having to ruin their day with unexpected bad news, which in turn, ruins your day too. I was completely focused on his hands. They looked so much like my dad’s. I just kept staring at them…..I’m pretty sure I made him uncomfortable.

    • Eleanor  March 20, 2015 at 12:15 pm Reply

      Oh Candice, that must have been so hard! Glad to know I’m not alone in feeling this way…but not glad either of us have to feel it.

  47. Beth Marshall  March 19, 2015 at 8:48 pm Reply

    So, I just saw Anna Whiston-Donaldson’s comment; minutes after reading her post ! Amazing- great minds definitely think alike. You ladies are such phenomenal writers. Keep up the inspiring work!

    • Eleanor  March 20, 2015 at 12:13 pm Reply

      I know, isn’t that such a weird coincidence?!? Thanks for always being so supportive!!

  48. Anna Whiston-Donaldson  March 19, 2015 at 7:32 pm Reply

    Oh my goodness yes! I wrote a blog post today saying how Justin Bieber reminds me of my son (in looks, only) and how Lady Diana’s death hit me so hard b/c she reminded me of my own golden Mom. 🙂

    • Eleanor  March 20, 2015 at 12:12 pm Reply


      Okay first, the upside down sweatshirt and Malfoy hair made me laugh out loud!! Second, what a crazy coincidence that we both wrote blog posts about this at the exact same time. Although after reading your post though I think you put it into words better than I could – I just want to hug women who remind me of my mother and be hugged by them…but not really though because they are strangers 🙂


  49. Snowygirl  March 19, 2015 at 7:30 pm Reply

    I recently had someone pass who, on so many occasions, reminded me of my deceased mother. But all those little, old, Italian women who cook good seem alike. It’s like a second loss, 20 yrs after the first, and that has made me take stock of my life. You are ABSOLUTELY not weird!

  50. Joyce Webster  March 19, 2015 at 7:26 pm Reply

    As I was reading you also triggered memories for me. So many I can hardly quite them anymore. Some are very painful still after all these years…but many are wonderful and those are some of the ones you helped me remember. Wonderful post and it has given me some wonderful things to use in my own writing and artwork. Thank you so much. JJ Webster

  51. Jean Sullivan  March 19, 2015 at 6:07 pm Reply

    No, you’re not weird. Unless, of course, we all are. I see little blond girls now and then who remind me so much of my daughter, Annalee, that I have to turn away to escape the tears. And yes, “Are You My Mother” was one of her favorite books.

  52. Nicole  March 19, 2015 at 5:20 pm Reply

    This is absolutely true. My brother had a core group of friends and they were all very similar. Which is why they all got along so well. And I’m very close to them still. And it’s nice to have the opportunities to hang out with them because it makes me feel closer to my brother. And also, my nephew. He’s only 5 now, but SO many things make me feel like he’s following the exact footsteps of his dad! From his laugh to his personality. It’s crazy!

  53. Brittany  March 19, 2015 at 5:00 pm Reply

    I actually couldn’t finish this article because how much I relate. About a month after my own mother passed I went with family to visit a homeless woman in the hospital. She looked so much like my mom and has many medical conditions like my mom did also. It was very hard for me.

    • Eleanor  March 19, 2015 at 5:23 pm Reply

      Whoops, I originally posted the wrong response in reply to your comment. I’m sorry you had this experience. You know it makes sense that we would see the things that make us happy and comfort us, as well as the things that make us sad. I personally find this to be one of the hardest experiences, to see someone who reminds me of my mother. It just makes me sad.

  54. Keli Burfield  March 19, 2015 at 4:54 pm Reply

    This is so true! There is a lady in our church-she really isn’t that much older than me (in my mind I’m still only 28!)-but she reminds me so much of my mom. She is a nurse like my mom, she’s small and petite like my mom, and she wears her hair much like my mom’s. I had an opportunity to be with her last Saturday morning for a volunteer project and at one point I was thinking, “I wonder if this is what it would have been like if Mom and I could have done this together.” And of course I had to keep myself from bursting into tears. There’s something sweetly, or maybe bittersweetly, familiar about this woman. She’s not Mom and she certainly isn’t in her 70’s, but it’s still a mixture of comforting and oh, how much I wish she were still here.

    • Eleanor  March 19, 2015 at 5:14 pm Reply

      Yes! You’ve described the feeling perfectly. And you know, I’m sure there are people we can have relationships with who we obviously know are not the same as our loved ones, but still fondly remind us of them.

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