Death is a natural part of life and we will all experience it one day. As a paranormal investigator, I spend a lot of time thinking about death but does that make it any easier to lose people you love? In the last year, I have lost several family members and this idea has been on my mind.
When Parapsychology was first introduced as an investigative science, it was during the height of the spiritualist movement and it was hoped that science could find some evidence of what happens to our “soul” after death. In the 1880’s, babies often died before their first birthday and disease cut many lives short. Families were left grieving the loss of their loved ones and many were hopeful that there was something better after they left their life of suffering. They sought out opportunities to communicate with those who had crossed over to the afterlife and psychic mediums welcomed the opportunity to make a profit. Meanwhile, scientists were quickly expanding the understanding of human evolution and laying the groundwork for a mechanical universe that didn’t necessitate a soul. The possibility of no afterlife distressed a multitude of people, some of them scientists themselves, and so Parapsychology was introduced as an attempt to build a bridge between science and spirituality.
Despite years of investigation and research, we still haven’t been able to truly grasp what is at work in what appears to be authentic spirit communication. I know some of you are saying “but I know that we go on because my experience has shown this to be true.” Granted many people have had communications with “the other side” but scientifically we haven’t been able to verify that these communications come from the deceased or if they are a product of another paranormal experience such as telepathy. Heck, we aren’t even sure that it isn’t our mind reproducing some aspect of our loved ones to comfort ourselves. These experiences can even be attributed to the psychological effects of priming in which we go into a situation with a certain idea or story related to the “paranormal” activity and are more open to attributing minor anomalies to that story.
In the field we often talk about pain and traumatic events triggering activity, so if there is a spirit world, are our loved ones reliving the pain of their former life? I also think about how the spirit world is treated by paranormal investigators and how I don’t want my loved ones to be subjected to the whims and silly questions of ghost hunters. If there is something beyond this, I would want it to be better. When I am in the field, I try to treat the dead the same way I would treat them if they were alive today but I know that not every investigator acts in this manner. I know that these “spirits” are yelled at, threatened, called names, ridiculed, and forced to hear about their worst moments a million times over. Lies are told and retold with the “spirit” unable to speak for themself.
What does all of this mean for my feelings about death? I guess it means that I am not comforted by what I know. I still miss the physical presence of my loved ones so that doesn’t change. People who believe in an afterlife often point to the idea of heaven and that the soul of our loved one is likely there and not here. If that is the case, what are we experiencing in a paranormal event? I have too many questions, not enough answers, and no real comfort other than I hope my loved ones are no longer experiencing bodily pain. Sometimes it feels like we still are at the beginning of this experiment in parapsychology where we want to find a link between the scientific and the spiritual and the answers are just out of reach.
Until next time. . .