My sister said that when she was asked to come to the hospital to say good by to our dad she looked up to the clock and it was five minutes to twelve, a symbol that time is running out. She said good-by and left. At five o'clock next morning my dad had died. My mother's association of bells and death probably has a traditional Christian connection, I wouldn't have made that association though. Similarly, five minutes to mid-night is a pretty universal symbol that time is running out. Still, I may not have made that association either had I been there in the hospital.
I use many symbols that I have been introduced to on my spiritual path; one idiosyncratic mode of communication with the Beyond is license plates. When I walked together with my sister to my mom's place I didn't take the short-cut she always takes, so she ironically said to me "Tschuess", the German phrase for good-bye. As I turned towards her my eyes fell on the license plate of a truck that was parked with running engine right outside, it said "se-nt 702". Seven and two add to 9 in numerology, which was also my father's birth number. He died on 12/27/2015 which adds to the number 2, while seven stands for completion. The word "sent" can stand for all kind of things, such as he sends me his love. However, given that my sister said "Tschuess" when my eyes fell on it, and given that the truck had already left when we came down again, I took it to mean that he already moved on, a day before his funeral.
In time I shall know what exactly was communicated to me that day just as my mother and my sister received their messages. There is no universal language, but the Beyond always has messages for us, tailored uniquely to the symbols that are meaningful to us.