Thinky/Discussion Post: Ghosts/Spirits, What Is Your Personal Feeling About It?

Nothing particularly inspired this post, beyond my parents and I having a conversation last night about if/when we feel the spirits of our shared dead relatives. As I’ve mentioned before, the lake house I go to in the summer has been in our family for almost 100 years, and it’s also where I spent the most time with my beloved Grandmother and Grandfather as a child (and where my father spent the most time with HIS grandparents when HE was a child), so we are surrounded by ghosts of various kinds of here.

I’m gonna start by saying that for myself personally, I have very very strong feelings of unseen presences around me and have my entire life. But I am also open to the idea of them being ghosts, or just that my mind has captured a strong snapshot of people I love that I can pull up when I want it, or that there is some kind of lingering psychic energy in certain places that I am sensitive to. It’s kind of like my feeling about God, I am sure of what I feel, but I have no need or interest in making it logical beyond a feeling.

Speaking of God, I am aware that brain has a certain area that is the “God-zone” and for some people it is larger and stronger than others. I know that the sense of connection with the great unknown is just brain synapsis firing off, and I believe in God because I have that brain bit, and other people don’t because they don’t have that brain bit. Or, alternatively, the way I was raised encouraged the growth of that brain bit so it is strong in me where it may not be strong of others. But the thing is, I also don’t care. Feeling connected to God makes me myself, to try to change that because of some logical scientific reason would mean changing myself to something I am not. I don’t care if God exists or not, I just care that he/she exists FOR ME.

Now, ghosts! I’ll start with my mother. She is very big on telling family stories, and she tells them clearly and strongly. Not just stories, images even. So I was raised with constant references like “I remember seeing your great grandmother sitting in that chair working on her cross stitch”. When you are a little 3 year old, you can immediately picture that in your head and the imaginary is almost as real to you as reality. So by a very young age I had all this super super clear pictures of my dead relatives sitting inside my brain. I don’t remember when it jumped to feeling like they were helping me or talking to me, but I have a very clear memory that must have been from when I was around 9 or 10 of trying to get my sewing machine to work, and my great grandfather’s presence being sort of vaguely felt next to me trying to give me advice and being bossy. He was a very very bossy man. A nice man, he wanted to help, but it was a very “just get out of the way and let me do this, I’ve got an idea how to do it better” sort of feeling to the presence.

I’m not saying I heard words, or saw an image, or anything like that. But you know how someone you know really well can be sitting across the room from you and without even looking at them, you know how they feel? Like, you are reading a book and your friend is reading a book in the same room, and suddenly you know they want to share something with you so you look up and ask them what they want? It’s not body language, because you aren’t looking at them, and it’s not hearing something, it’s sort of a shift in the energy in the room. That’s how I feel “ghosts”, a sudden energy presence of a particular feeling.

My great grandfather, as I said, was a very bossy man and a very strong personality. I heard so many stories about him all the time all my life, to this day. So either my mind created a sense of this person that it tosses up at me at moments when I would think of him (mostly when trying to solve a mechanical problem), or there is an actual spirit of him hovering around that pops over and forces itself into my awareness because he’s the kind of fellow who would always force himself in.

What makes me lean more towards some version of ghost or spirit, a lingering personality, versus just my mind creating images, is that the people I sense most are the ones with pushy personalities, not necessarily the ones I knew the best. I never even met my great grandfather, but by golly he still hangs around giving me advice. Meanwhile, my mother’s mother, who I spent tons of time with and had a very strong personality as well, she barely ever drops by. She was a very private woman who had a horror of intruding or being nosey or in the way. So even though my brain map should be able to pull her up much more easily than my great grandfather, the actual spirit would resist being brought up unless I really really asked for her.

Anyway, the nice thing is that Grandpa has started visiting me! Remember my Grandpa? Who died at age 100 back in November? He was gone-gone for a while, but just recently he’s started hanging out with me. Or, my brain has started tossing up a sense of him to me, whichever explanation you prefer. Again, I don’t have a clear memory of when it started, I just sort of got used to it being around. It’s kind of like when his father visits me, but way better. My Great-Grandpa is always “here, let me show you how to do it, this will work better”. It comes from a place of love, but it’s awfully bossy and you have to dig a bit to find the love in it. My Grandpa is more sort of a feeling of “I am so interested in exactly how you are doing what you are doing because everything you do is fascinating to me because you are the most amazing young woman in the history of the world”.

What do you think about all this? Is it ghosts as in “dead people who stay on earth” or is it some lingering energy of them or is it just my brain being weird? Is the fact that I only have love-ghosts and no hate-ghosts (yes, my family has hatefilled people as well, every family does) because love lasts and hate dies, or because my brain doesn’t want them, or because I choose to ignore that energy?

And what is your own experience? Have you had any strong feeling of a presence of someone who is gone? Was it a sense of love or hate or something more specific? Have you ever had a visit from someone you never met, or only people you knew in life? What’s your overall feeling about this kind of experience?

6 thoughts on “Thinky/Discussion Post: Ghosts/Spirits, What Is Your Personal Feeling About It?

  1. I was ready to just let you have your obviously comforting experience of your granddad. But you seem secure enough in your feeling that you won’t let me destroy it for you.

    I have to admit, usually people lose me when they start talking about mental/spiritual “energy”. I think it’s just not something I grew up with. The concept of “God” is a lot more palatable for me. And even there, it’s just a very vague idea of what that feeling may be like that some people interpret as faith. That, plus, I can’t rule out anything in the realm beyond the reach of human senses.

    That said, I think we tend to underestimate our senses. Especially those beyond sight and hearing. I had a very impressive experience in a dark restaurant once, where I could feel that my wife had left, because her body heat was gone from the opposite side of the table and the sounds echoed just slightly differently.
    I can easily imagine how sounds and temperature differences might suggest a presence as well.

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    • Oh yeah, I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I find the whole concept of “religious debate” kind of odd actually. It feels like debating if chocolate or strawberry is a tastier flavor. You can share your individual feelings and opinions, but it’s not like you can change someone else’s innate chemistry just through talking.

      I have such strong senses of presence sometimes but, like you said, we don’t know how much our senses tell us. So I am totally open to the idea that I am sensing Grandpa all of a sudden because there is a scent I associate with him layered down deep below my conscious awareness that is triggering a memory. Still a bit odd that I have such a strong sense of someone I never met, but then I have heard a lot of stories about him. And as for the grandmother I almost never sense, it could be that my mind is aware she would never give an opinion without being asked, so I don’t imagine her presence into existence.

      No matter what triggers it or what it is, it’s nice. I welcome these sudden memories/imaginings/whatever. I think that’s what’s most important, when you feel that rush of presence of remembered love or whatever it is, welcome it in and let yourself feel it. I hate the idea of people who say “ghosts don’t exist” or something like that, because that cuts you off from the possibility of these warm feelings. You don’t have to call it a “ghost”, you can call it just a “vivid memory”, but don’t say “that was the past, they are dead, they don’t matter any more”. Does that make sense? My Grandpa actually was pretty strong on that himself, and I think he cut himself off from some comforting memories he could have had of his dead relatives but not letting in that sort of illogical nonsense to his life.

      On Tue, Jun 7, 2022 at 1:05 PM dontcallitbollywood < comment-reply@wordpress.com> wrote:

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  2. I think reading this, it showed me how much upbringing also impacts our relationships with ghosts/spirits or the idea of them. For me I grew up/ am a Hindu and in my community in India has completely impacted my relationship to spirits. while there’s no belief of ghosts there is a belief of ancestors guiding you towards the right path and the respect to the ancestor.

    So to explain it through an example, old family properties will have a ghost (not the right word, its more of someone who protects the family) and every 3 years there will be a ritual to bring them out and ask their grievances towards their families. So one of my grandaunts had a legendary rivalry with another grandaunt, during that ritual the ghost (the priest who is ‘possessed’) would ask them to patch up.

    So my whole life I have viewed my ancestors as people who are there to guide me and protect me but not necessarily someone I can feel. I feel the only experience I’ve had with people I’ve never met, was with my mother’s dad who died 2 years before I was born. So for me I always have wanted to know him my whole life and he once came into my dreams to comfort me when I was going through a hard time. So I guess for me my relationship to spirits and such is very similar to religious theology.

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    • Oh, I like this tradition. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, relationships with people who are dead still affect the living, it’s good to bring them out and air out the problems every few years.

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  3. I love how wonderfully you have captured what a “ghost” or “spirit” means to you. Lovely. Glad that you feel the presence of your Great grandfather and grandfather.

    In my tradition, quite similar to how you’ve described, your ancestors leave an imprint of themselves in your make up (physical, mental, emotional whatever… although the physical bit is explained away by genes). And time is circular, so whatever improvement (or damage) you do to yourself, that impacts the portion of ancestors left in you … As well as imprinted into your extended family! So in essence, there’s some amount of collective responsibility a family shares across generations. I’ve never felt my ancestors but my tradition calls out that I owe a portion of the goodness in my life and in me to those who came before me, and whatever goodness I create will impact not only myself and my current family (even extended) but generations before and after.

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  4. The universe beyond us is vast, unknown and probably unknowable. We are nothing compared to it and yet, we humans wonder and presume, feel, hope to know and strive to know. This wonderful thread only shows me how amazing we are. Thanks again, Margaret.

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