When Angels Speak

December 28, 2017

I put the last of my grocery cart items on the conveyor belt and nudged my cart forward. As the cashier scanned my stack of necessities, I watched the bagger swiftly fill bags and then my cart, and out of the corner of my eye, I could see another shopper had joined the line. She began unloading her cart, and without thinking, I turned for a better look. I recognized the woman immediately as a friend of my Mother’s.

I didn’t know her well. Growing up in a predominantly Mormon neighborhood, there were just a handful of families that were not LDS. Hers was one of them. But my mother had a way of making those families some of her closest friends. I remembered how much my Mom cared about this woman. I remembered going with my Mom once or twice to take dinner to her when she was not well. I remembered my Mom reminding us to be kind to her children.

Should I say hello?  The thought dangled in my mind.

She’ll never remember me. Or recognize me… It’s been over twenty years since we’ve seen each other.

The cashier announced the total of my purchase, so I inserted my card for payment and tried to dismiss the idea.

But the idea didn’t leave.

Maybe I should say something.

And then I felt it. A touch on my shoulder. My right shoulder. As if my mother were standing next to me, her hand gently brushing against my clothing.

Then I heard her voice. There was no mistaking it.

“You need to say hello to her,” she said. “You need to tell her that I love her.”

The cashier handed me my receipt and I hesitated, knowing it was now or never.

Reluctantly, I turned back to the woman behind me and spoke her name. Before I could make my excuse that she would never remember me, her hand was on my arm and she was saying my own name.

“Catherine. I was so sorry to hear about your Mom. It was so sad.” There was genuine sorrow in her eyes and in her words.

“Thank you,” I said. “We really miss her.”

“She was a great lady. She never judged me. There was never any judgement. No judgement at all.”

“I know,” I said. “She was good at that. I actually wondered if I should say something to you and when I hesitated, it was like she tapped me on the shoulder and told me to say hello, because she wanted me to tell you how much she loves you.”

Her face softened and so did her smile.

“She was kind to me. And you and your brother did more for us than you know.”

There was not time to say much more. I asked about her children. We swapped brief details and then again in the parking lot, we talked for a couple more minutes, about her family, how everyone was doing. It was a happy conversation and the connection was easy, unrestrained, and seemed to fill us both.

We said goodbye and I finished putting my groceries into the back of my car then climbed in and started the ignition. A glowing warmth and gratitude settled around me.

If I could have seen my Mother’s spirit with my very eyes, in all its shimmering essence, I would not have known with more surety that she was sitting next to me in the passenger seat than I did in that moment. So I spoke out loud.

“I did it Mom. I did what you asked me to do. I was your voice.”

And then I cried. And together we made the drive home.

Days later I was telling my friend Kara about the experience. How my mother’s words had felt so similar to the Holy Ghost when He speaks to me. The same kind of knowing and fire and peace. All at once. And yet it wasn’t the Holy Ghost. It was my Mother. She was the messenger.

Kara pulled out her Book of Mormon and reminded me of this verse in 2 Nephi 32. I’ve read it dozens of times. So many times. And never before had it made so much sense. One phrase rang out with perfect clarity.

“Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost.”

Since my Mother passed away, I’d been trying to figure out this new place of communication with her. I was trying to differentiate between her voice and the voice of the Spirit. And now I understood.

By the power of the Holy Ghost, I could discern her voice. Her message. And through the Holy Ghost, she was given means to communicate. This is the pattern angels use. This is how they speak.

They do speak. And when they do, similar to the Holy Ghost, they have a message for us. Instruction, illumination, a truth to confirm, a warning, a witness, and sometimes, simple but matchless comfort.

In this season of angels, when we speak of angelic annunciations and angels filling the skies over shepherd’s fields – this season in which we hang angels on Christmas trees, place their art on our walls, I can no longer think of them as distant floating figures. The word angel has personal, even tangible meaning to me now. They are family. Joseph F. Smith taught us this. Loved ones who care about us. And they are thick around us. Speaking to us, walking next to us, teaching us.

President Ezra Taft Benson said,

“Visitors, seen and unseen, from the world beyond, are often close to us… There is no veil to the Lord.” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.35)

No veil to the Lord. How often do we consider His perspective? How he views this mingling of worlds?

I made my scripture study this month about angels. In almost precise verbiage, here are their capabilites.

They can stand by us, come to us, go before us, speak to us in dreams, speak by the word of the Lord, speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, talk with God, talk with us, carry us, show us, tell us not to fear, testify, bear us up, have charge over us, minister to us after great temptation, stay with us through the night.

As I write these words, a new death is fresh in our family. Last night my Dad’s brother, Richard, passed away. Cancer commandeered his body at a tragically rapid rate in recent weeks, and his going was sooner than expected.

Sweet Richard. Always kind. Always gentle. How my Dad loved this comrade from his childhood. His oldest brother.

I wept for my Dad. He has experienced so much loss this year.

But then I thought of those who had likely come to carry Richard home. The Grandmother I adore, the devoted Grandfather I never met, Richard’s daughter Fiona, and my own Mother. Surely she would have been there. And once again, I felt that spark of her feet touching the earth, the sensation of air moving as she passed by.

I didn’t hear her speak, but I knew she was near.


What experiences have you had with angels speaking? How have angels assisted you, taught you, comforted you? How has God used these messengers in your life?

Lead Image: The Messenger  by Annie Henrie Nader. Additional art by Kirt Harmon.

December 29, 2017


  1. Reply


    December 28, 2017

    Oh Catherine, I wish we could sit and share for hours. My mother died 2 years ago. I wrote about it here: https://segullah.org/daily-special/on-dying/
    But after she died, I did not sense her presence for a long, long time. It was puzzling because I do commune with other family angels frequently and it made me wonder what Mom was up to, why she wasn’t coming to talk with me. But just two days ago, in this very spot where I now sit, she came to visit. It’s exactly as you say: it can feel like the Holy Spirit, but the messenger was clearly Mom. I said out loud, “Hi Mom.” And then we talked a while. I heard my own voice, because I was speaking to her aloud. And I heard her voice, not in memory, but right there, right then. Her voice– her message — was love, and it’s exactly what I needed — right there, right then. Angels are usually our family members from the other side of the veil. And they do speak. Thank you for reminding us.

  2. Reply


    December 28, 2017

    This was both beautiful & profound. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Reply

    Leslie Keddington

    December 28, 2017

    As Roger and Dick’s bishop gave him a blessing of release I knew without doubt that his parents where in the room waiting for him to be ready to leave this life. I am certain that the angels that comfort us and watch over us are those we love most dearly. Thank you for your beautiful thoughts. Love you!

  4. Reply


    December 28, 2017

    I have had a few experience feeling my mother. One was when I was living in Boston walking down Newbury Street. It is one of the most wealthy places in the city. I heard her tell me, “ It is not what you have that you will be remembered for, it is what you give to others.” I too know she was there with me. I love you

  5. Reply


    December 29, 2017

    Thank you for this, it’s beautiful. Thank you for reminding me about angels. I need to listen more carefully, more often.

  6. Reply


    December 29, 2017

    I have felt my maternal grandmother (gone nearly twenty years now) lately. Her message to me is courage through a trying time. I’m so grateful! Thank you.

  7. Reply

    Melissa Y

    December 29, 2017

    This was so lovely. I haven’t had any experience feeling family members on the other side. It’s beautiful to know that it can happen. Thank you for sharing, and for the connection to the scripture verse.

  8. Reply

    Anne Marie

    December 31, 2017

    Oh, Cath, this is so beautiful. And, friend, I am so sorry for the loss of your uncle. I’ll be thinking of you and your family.

    After reading your words, I feel like my appreciation has really increased for angels and those who have gone before us. Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences.

    Two years ago, I realized that temple work had never been done for my uncle. (My mom’s a convert.) I felt a sense of urgency about it so we got things moving. When my son was baptized on his behalf, he told me what a special experience it had been. Months later, my son was in great need of divine protection. (Quite frankly, the time we live in and we’re raising our kids in, is full of spiritual perils. The need for heaven’s help has never been greater.) As I looked back on all that my son had been through, I knew that he had been clearly watched over. The Spirit gently whispered that his deceased uncle, in particular, had given assistance to him. I felt profoundly grateful.

    You and your family will be in my thoughts. Love you

  9. Reply

    Suzie Sandridge

    December 31, 2017

    That felt sacred to read. So beautiful!
    A few years ago, I was listening to the General Conference talk “The Atonement Covers All Pain,” by Kent F. Richards. He talks about how angles visited children in an intensive care unit. While I listened to his talk, I had a clear and tender impression that my deceased Grandpa Keddington was there with me when I was in the intensive care unit as a three-year old. I will thank him for that in person one day!

  10. Reply

    Emilie Schrof

    December 31, 2017

    Thank you so much Cath!
    This was beautiful! I felt the spirit confirm to me that what you wrote was true. I will be carrying this message with me. I love you! ??

  11. Reply

    ellen patton

    January 18, 2018

    I had a sweet experience once that had to do with my older brother. I’ll tell you about it the next time I see you or we talk on the phone. This was so beautiful to read. You are so in touch with the spirit; the Holy Spirit and your mom.