Based in Brooklyn, NY, I write about all things creepy and strange. My book based on the real haunting of Doris Bither (The Entity 1982 movie) will be released soon. Got a question? Drop me a line.


Vaughan Bell from ScientificAmerican has an article about how it’s common for people, under bereavement, to experience a ghostly encounter. Only that these encounters are hallucinations brought on by stressful environments.

I partially agree with the theory. I would be inclined to write off most ghost visitations after a loved one passes as a possible hallucination. Whether it be olfactory, visual or auditory hallucinations.
The problem is that at least in my family, I can count of a half a dozen times where this was not the case.

When my father passed away in 2005, this 3-4 year old kid (not related) described seeing this man standing by the doorway telling him:

It’s ok, I’m not in pain. I can walk now…

The kid proceeded to describe my father in detail. The only reason why someone found out what this kid had seen was because they observed him acting strange. While sitting down watching television, this kid kept swatting at his ear. In a annoyed manner. When finally asked what was going on, he said that the man in the door would not be quiet.

Like this story, I’ve heard many other stories from my family about loved ones visiting the living after they’ve passed. A sort of last farewell.

Full source:ScientificAmerican

Ghost Stories: Visits from the Deceased
After a loved one dies, most people see ghosts

By Vaughan Bell

Carlos Sluzki’s cat died a while ago now, but he still sometimes visits. Now more of a shadow cat, the former pet seems to lurk at the edges of Sluzki’s vision, as a misinterpreted movement amid the everyday chaos of domestic life. All the same, the shadow cat is beginning to slink away and Sluzki notes that as the grief fades his erstwhile friend is “erasing himself from the world of the present and receding into the bittersweet world of the memories of the loved ones.”

The dead stay with us, that much is clear. They remain in our hearts and minds, of course, but for many people they also linger in our senses—as sights, sounds, smells, touches or presences. Grief hallucinations are a normal reaction to bereavement but are rarely discussed, because people fear they might be considered insane or mentally destabilised by their loss. As a society we tend to associate hallucinations with things like drugs and mental illness, but we now know that hallucinations are common in sober healthy people and that they are more likely during times of stress.

A Common Hallucination
Mourning seems to be a time when hallucinations are particularly common, to the point where feeling the presence of the deceased is the norm rather than the exception. One study, by the researcher Agneta Grimby at the University of Goteborg, found that over 80 percent of elderly people experience hallucinations associated with their dead partner one month after bereavement, as if their perception had yet to catch up with the knowledge of their beloved’s passing. As a marker of how vivid such visions can seem, almost a third of the people reported that they spoke in response to their experiences. In other words, these weren’t just peripheral illusions: they could evoke the very essence of the deceased.

Occasionally, these hallucinations are heart-rending. A 2002 case report by German researchers described how a middle aged woman, grieving her daughter’s death from a heroin overdose, regularly saw the young girl and sometimes heard her say “Mamma, Mamma!” and “It’s so cold.” Thankfully, these distressing experiences tend to be rare, and most people who experience hallucinations during bereavement find them comforting, as if they were re-connecting with something of the positive from the person’s life. Perhaps this reconnecting is reflected in the fact that the intensity of grief has been found to predict the number of pleasant hallucinations, as has the happiness of the marriage to the person who passed away.

There are hints that the type of grief hallucinations might also differ across cultures. Anthropologists have told us a great deal about how the ceremonies, beliefs and the social rituals of death differ greatly across the world, but we have few clues about how these different approaches affect how people experience the dead after they have gone. Carlos Sluzki, the owner of the shadow cat and a cross-cultural researcher at George Mason University, suggests that in cultures of non-European origin the distinction between “in here” and “out there” experiences is less strictly defined, and so grief hallucinations may not be considered so personally worrying. In a recent article, he discussed the case of an elderly Hispanic lady who was frequently “visited” by two of her children who died in adulthood and were a comforting and valued part of her social network. Other case reports have suggested that such hallucinations may be looked on more favorably among the Hopi Indians, or the Mu Ghayeb people from Oman, but little systematic work has been done.

And there, our knowledge ends. Despite the fact that hallucinations are one of the most common reactions to loss, they have barely been investigated and we know little more about them. Like sorrow itself, we seem a little uncomfortable with it, unwilling to broach the subject and preferring to dwell on the practicalities—the “call me if I can do anything,” the “let’s take your mind off it,” the “are you looking after yourself?”

Only a minority of people reading this article are likely to experience grief without re-experiencing the dead. We often fall back on the cultural catch all of the “ghost” while the reality is, in many ways, more profound. Our perception is so tuned to their presence that when they are not there to fill that gap, we unconsciously try to mold the world into what we have lived with for so long and so badly long for. Even reality is no match for our love.

  • redngreen

    “….Our perception is so tuned to their presence that when they are not there to fill that gap, we unconsciously try to mold the world into what we have lived with for so long and so badly long for….”

    Could it be that our grief allows us to be more open? It’s easy to assume someone who is grieving is merely hallucinating, but I am inclined to disagree. Few things are more complex than the abilities of the mind, and that being said, I guess could also support the point of the article lol.

  • redngreen

    Oh one more quick thing Javier, you have got some GREAT stories brother!


  • Desi,

    Thank you.


  • lisa

    My 20 year old son died in May of this year and right before died (he was in A COMA)I would wake up in the night a feel as though i would see him but I never did. Now I am waking up at night and seeing people I don’t know. Call it ghosts or what I don’t know! I am not afraid of them but last night I woke up and reach out for the woman and she vanished. Can I want to see my son so bad I am welcoming other spirits? Also my husband and I have both woke up recently seeing a red haze in our bedroom as well. We know our house isn’t haunted but I don’t know what to think.

  • Bea

    Lisa, my heart goes out to you for your loss. If I can help you in any way please do not hesitate to contact me. And remember that your son is alive and well dancing in a higher dimension commonly known as Heaven. Love, B

  • Nz

    I woke up in bed from a deep sleep at 3am with a fright with a figure standing over me i thought i had an intruder in the house i live alone i jumped up and banged my head causing me to blink and then the person was gone in a blink of an eye , it then dawned on me that it was my partner standing over me i could see the outline of her head and hair against the hall way light,,my partner died 5weeks before at 3am from suicide it was no hallucination i have dealt with a lot of death with people close to me passing and have never had this was no hallucination, i could see the figure and the outline but the center was like smoke swirling around, the house also felt warm for about 3 to 4 months as if the heaters were left on and then one day it stopped.

  • george

    in answer to those that claim seeing a loved one after they died is just a form of grief. I saw my mother after she died her spirit actually rose up from her body at the funeral home, Iwas sitting next to my then girlfriend who only met her once and had no relationship at that point with her . right after mom sat up turned her head and smiled at us as we sat there , we that is my girl friend {NOW wife Of over 40 yrs} turned our heads looked each other in the eye and said at the same time “DID YOU SEE THAT?” we both shook our heads yes . I told my dad the next day not sure what he would say ,he simply smiled and said that he too had seen mom ,she came to him and told him she was fine . she had suffered a long slow death . I have no idea where we go after this life , I just know we have a spirit body and it goes somewhere. PS my mom was not a religious person ,but never said an unkind word about anyone and took care of children while they waited to be adopted a person of great love and compassion.

  • dchansut

    I find it as easy (if not easier) to believe that the spirit of a loved one who has left “this mortal coil” tries to contact those he/she loves to comfort them or to seek comfort as it is to believe folks are “hallucinating.” Saying people are hallucinating when they say they have connected with the spirit of a loved one is merely a convenient label for an effect. It satisfies limited minds that cling to the physical and the concrete–that which is absolute and observable (rather like the folks, once upon a time, who believed the world was flat), but it explains absolutely nothing at all.

  • Chris

    My father died less than a month ago. In the immediate days following his death, I saw a ghost of him twice. Once he was in bed and the other time he came out of his room. I’ve never had such an encounter before. It’s was so startling. Not frightening though.

  • P Green

    I saw my Dad after he had passed over .I was with him when he died and also when he went into a comma .I had been praying that he would have a gentle passing he was & had been in alot of pain. A few weeks later I was fast asleep at home when about 3am I awoke to find him at the end of my bed.He was much much younger a version of him I dont actualy remember conciously,we spoke and cuddled I actually held him and cried on his shoulder yet now I doubt myself??,he said hadnt seen MUM yet but said he was going to soon?.Mum died three years earlier I asked him please stay and he said he couldnt.I think it must have taken about three or four minutes and wasnt long enough.I have NEVER EVER !!! experienced anything like it before or since but it gave me great peace. Thanks for sharing .

  • kristy harmon

    This article just helped me so much. just wanted to let you know it did help someonne.

  • Tamra

    Wanting to send thank you cards to those who had contributed to the American Cancer Society in my then recently deceased husband’s name, I wondered which picture of him to have printed on the inside of the card, when suddenly my favorite photo of him, looking handsome & healthy popped our of a glass panel where it had been firmly placed behind two wood slats on my china cabinet, and fell to the ground ten feet away from me. It was the popping sound of the picture that got my attention, as if someone had pushed it from behind

  • Robin

    My Mum dies at just 59 a few weeks ago. I’m feeling her presence around me. Sure I saw smoke next to my bed the other night. I have a Welsh Dolly in my room, which I gave to her while at Primary School in Wales. It maybe attracting her attention…..

  • Zuijiadeai

    Thanks for sharing here. I’m having the same experience too when my sister is dead due to cancer. A few minute before she passed away she is in hospital bed with my mom beside her. She told my mom that she saw an angle, and then she passed away. Then the following nights after she pass away I saw her standing near my bed, when I was sleeping. Nothing frightening, and when I told my mom both my mom and my dad have similar experience as me.

  • teresaspeer

    What about people reporting that they have a grey streak in their hair after experiencing paranormal activity?