Ghosts of Grief

Do Ghosts Appear to Us During times of Grief?
After reading the book, Helping Ghosts, a grief counselor, Kim, contacted me to share her thoughts about it. I decided to ask her some questions about grief and ghosts. Her response was both surprising to me and refreshing, especially with her grief counseling experience.

“It's not uncommon for the bereaved to experience feelings or have experiences after their loved one passes that makes them wonder if it was a 'visitation' or are they simply 'going crazy' because of grief symptoms,” said Kim. “People will report hearing their loved one or sensing their loved one's presence after their death.”

Comfort During GrievingWhen people suffer from grief caused by the loss of a family member or friend, it is quite common for ghosts of loved ones to be seen, felt, or even heard. Science would label such experiences as "grief hallucinations," but are they always figments of our imagination? Are ghosts and spirits of our loved ones visiting us? Through her many counseling sessions, I could tell Kim had formulated thoughts about this, too.

“Although this is a very common symptom of the grief process, Kim said, 'Helping Ghosts' may explain and/or add another dimension to the explanation of these experiences.”

Our dead certainly stay with us, for we would all agree they remain in our hearts and minds. Although rarely discussed, this phenomenon of ghosts being experienced during times of grief is quite common. It is considered to be a normal reaction during bereavement, something personal and often kept as a secret. Some might fear that sharing such an experience could result in people labeling them as "nuts."

Grief researchers, such as Agneta Grimby of the University of Goteborg, note that over 80 percent of the elderly who have lost their partner do experience feeling their presence with them in some form or fashion. The presence may become so real that grieving people who experience ghosts of loved ones will often answer back to them.

Disagreeing in part with scientists who label all these experiences as illusions, I would offer that communication with spirits of our loved ones is both healing for the person grieving and the ghost of the person who is likely concerned about family and friends who are still suffering pain from their recent, earthly departure.

Kim agrees with me, expressing that, “'Helping Ghosts' may also encourage people in their conversations with their loved ones to help direct them in their afterlife as well as add peace for both the departed and bereaved.”

Certainly, some ghost sightings are hallucinations. I cannot disagree with that, but other sightings, in my opinion, are true spirit visitations from the other side of the grave. Because ghosts are the spirits of people, it only makes sense that they, too, must be concerned for those who are grieving over their death. I am of the opinion that grieving people can unknowingly keep loved ones in spirit from moving forward in their life journey. Some ghosts remain behind out of concern, not willing to leave until they know their family member or friend has healed from the loss. Then, the ghost may feel free to move on.

Ghosts of GriefMost ghost sightings witnessed during times of grief are positive, comforting experiences. The phenomenon can be found across cultural lines, indicating it is not something isolated to a particular faith. This should be a red flag to researchers that perhaps visits from ghosts are something real. Of course, such experiences might be interpreted differently, dependent upon one's cultural beliefs. No matter which side of the fence you might find yourself on regarding ghost sightings during periods of grief, it should be noted that the experience itself must play an important role in human lives. It is something that is evidently needed in order to help us heal.

My work in attempting to understand why ghosts remain here with the living has taught me that our fears can grab hold of us, shackling us to the past and in a perpetual place of emotional suffering. If we can learn anything from this, then let it be that we need to work through life's issues and choose not to carry unnecessary emotional baggage around with us. Otherwise, we unwittingly choose to suffer until we decide to view things differently.

“Most importantly, Helping Ghosts really brings home the point of why it is so important to work through and resolve issues in this life versus bringing them into the next,” says grief counselor Kim. - Louis Charles