When Jessica Saunders' mother passed away from cancer a few years ago, she was devastated.
It was hard for her to cope with the pain and grief; her mom's death had also left a huge hole in the fabric of their family.
Saunders wasn't sure how to explain to her two young children that 'Nana' was gone.
"You want to shelter them, and not really talk about it but we were faced with a situation where we had no choice," explained Saunders.
In the days and weeks following her mother's death, Saunders found solace in nature, looking for signs that her mother was still with her in spirit.
Right after her mother passed, a yellow monarch butterfly had landed on an outdoor planter, and wouldn't leave.
Now every time Saunders and her kids see a yellow butterfly, they know their grandmother is there.
"It's Nana flying through to say hi," said Saunders.
It was this concept of finding beauty in nature that was the inspiration for her second book, Where Do Our Loved Ones Go?
The 24-colourful page rhyming book follows two characters as they look for ways to find their Nana in nature, through things like rainbows, feathers, dragonflies and clouds.
"This puts a positive spin on how we can look for Nana in the beauty around us," said Saunders. "Now it's a happy thing for my kids."
Saunders said she wrote the book for her children, but her hope is that it will help other families too.
"It's a way that kids can have a positive way of looking and realizing whoever left is still with them," she said.
Prior to her mother's death, Saunders didn't know what to believe about the afterlife. It wasn't until she started receiving "messages" from her mother, that she truly believed there was life after death.
"Since I've lost her, there is no way that I can't believe there is something beyond (this life)," she said.
It was on Saunders' fifth wedding anniversary in August 2019 that her beliefs were confirmed. Saunders and her family were coming home from up north after their anniversary getaway when they received a series of messages all in a row.
First, they spotted a rainbow.
The rainbow was significant because when Saunders' mother was in the hospital, she had a picture of a rainbow drawn by Saunders' son hanging up by her bed. It was also put in her mother's casket when she was buried.
"I always tell my son that the rainbow means that Nana is thinking of us," explained Saunders. "We know that she is watching over all of us."
As the family kept driving, they saw another rainbow.
"Then we keep driving and we are close to home and in the road, in front of us there was a red cardinal," said Saunders.
Red cardinals are often believed to be messages from loved ones in heaven.
Once the family arrived home, Saunders' son jumped out of the car and spotted a dime on the ground. Dimes are also known to be affiliated with the afterlife, meaning someone who has passed on is trying to communicate.
At this point, the family hadn't been home for a few weeks, and quickly took note of a single sprouted sunflower in their garden.
"We didn't plant it. We don't have any sunflowers in the area," confirmed Saunders. "It was just a random sunflower that had grown into our garden."
Sunflowers were Saunders' wedding flower; it was also one of her mother's favourite flowers.
"It was the flower my mom always gave to me on special occasions," said Saunders.
It all seemed like a coincidence, but Saunders couldn't help but think her mother was trying to reach out. After telling her father about all the signs she had seen on her way home from their anniversary trip: the two rainbows; the cardinal; the dime; and the sunflower, her father pointed out there were five messages on their fifth wedding anniversary.
"That for sure was my mom saying 'Happy Anniversary," said Saunders. "And that's just one of so many stories I have that are so specific, that it can't not be her."
This is Saunders' second self-published children's book. Her first book, The Little Peanut, was released earlier this year; a story she had written as a young girl about a peanut who goes on an adventure across the countertop.
You can order a copy of her new book on Amazon, here.
To learn more about Jessica Saunders, visit her website here.