According to a survey by the Forever Family Foundation, 52% of the interviewees would be “overjoyed” and would “try to interact” if they were to see a deceased loved one while they were awake.

It would be easy to dismiss this as a just a nice thought – the understandable desire on the part of a bereaved person to renew contact with somebody who’s passed away. In fact, things are not as simple.

First of all, research tells us that some sort of interaction with the deceased is a very frequent phenomenon. According to the University of Chicago, for instance, as many as 43% of American adults report having had some sort of contact with a deceased loved one. And nearly one in three of the Americans who do not believe in life after life still report an interaction.

Many of these experiences can be explained, but some actually can’t. These include, for instance, cases in which there is sustained two-way communication, touch and, especially, the same apparition being seen by many witnesses at the same time. Experiences of interaction with the dead have been investigated by top researchers and in great detail. Whoever has bothered looking at such investigations understands that, collectively, the phenomenon cannot be explained away as fantasies, hallucinations, or misperceptions.

What is most important, however, is that these experiences are often very comforting for those who have them. They can significantly ease the pain of a loss, providing meaningful evidence that the loved one goes on living in a non-material dimension of existence.

This being said, it is also true that many people who have had such an experience find it difficult to accept its reality. I have received many letters by persons who’ve had “signs” from a deceased loved one and found them comforting, but still ask me to confirm, validate their experience. And, forget talking about such things with your doctor, or with a traditional grief counsellor! There is total rejection on the part of a large part of the mental health environment.

For this reason, critically examining the large body of evidence for life after life can be very helpful. It can relieve the suffering of grief, supporting a belief in the afterlife which is based on reason rather than on confused and unsubstantiated religious teachings. And, for those who’ve had an experience of interaction with a discarnate personality, it provides the confirmation that this was indeed a real experience.

Piero Calvi-Parisetti

Piero Calvi-Parisetti is a Scottish/Italian medical doctor and university lecturer. A member of the Society for Psychical Research and of the International Association for Near-Death Studies, he is also a trained psychotherapist and grief counselor.

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