Seeing Dead People

Since my wife died, I’ve thought about her constantly. I can imagine what Susan would do or say in certain situations as if she were present. I catch glimpses of her in our children and grandchildren. But these are my own reflections; I have not encountered Susan as an entity outside myself. I believe she’s alive but I haven’t “seen” her.

It’s one thing to suppose people survive death and quite another to meet them in the here and now. I know friends who have “seen dead people” and I’ve read credible stories of such encounters. *

Should we expect objective brushes with spiritual beings, e.g., departed loved ones, angels, Jesus? By “objective” I mean, “intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings.” Theologians like N. T. Wright would say no when it comes to seeing loved ones who have passed on because they are “asleep.”

We know that we will be with God and with Christ, resting and being refreshed. Paul writes that it will be conscious, but compared with being bodily alive, it will be like being asleep.
… John Polkinghorne, a physicist and a priest, has put it this way: “God will download our software onto his hardware until the time he gives us new hardware to run the software again for ourselves.” That gets to two things nicely: that the period after death is a period when we are in God’s presence but not active in our own bodies, and also that the more important transformation will be when we are again embodied and administering Christ’s kingdom.

What do you think? Are the departed comatose or is contact with them possible?

If you had such a visitation, would you tell anyone about it?

* There is a spate of bestselling books on the subject, including:
Heaven is for Real
Fingerprints of God
90 Minutes in Heaven
In the Arms of Angels

8 thoughts on “Seeing Dead People

  1. Dianne, before I saw your comment I was going to say this. After my father died of Alzheimer’s I had a dream in which he knocked on the door of the house I grew up in and barged in all hale and healthy (I remember his bright blue eyes in the dream; in life they had faded). I remember he tousled my hair as if to say “Hey son, I’m back from the dead. Where’s your ma?” It’s no more nuts than other dreams of mine, yet this one stood out in a way that other dreams don’t for me.

    Even since I had that dream I’ve mentioned it to folks who’ve lost someone (more politely than it sounds I hope) and all of them have had a dream about their departed that stands out as more than a dream.. where the person seemed more there than they do in a normal dream.. and they all had some sort of goodbye to say. I entertain the idea that there’s some sort of allowance being made, that the departed get to be dreamt of in this special manner by a limited number of loved ones. So long as they don’t start spilling the big secret, of course.

  2. Despite the revelation of truth found in the person of Jesus, the wisdom of “scripture” and the continuing revelation of the nature of God in creation…despite all of these, life, death and God remain a deep mystery that cannot be fully grasped by the finite, yet powerful and wonderful human mind. In light of this, I like the words of Brennan Manning that are relevant to this:

    “If we maintain the open-mindedness of children, we challenge fixed ideas and established structures, including our own. We listen to people in other denominations and religions. We don’t find demons in those with whom we disagree. We don’t cozy up to people who mouth our jargon. If we are open, we rarely resort to either-or: either creation or evolution, liberty or law, sacred or secular, Beethoven or Madonna. We focus on both-and, fully aware that God’s truth cannot be imprisoned in a small definition.”
    ~ Brennan Manning

  3. I have spent a lot of time recently pondering these same questions. Not only because my son died recently, but because I am also not well, and in fact, have qualified for hospice care, though I have not yet made that decision to sign up…. I have decided that I think we will be fully conscious, but not with a body, maybe clothed with some temporary ‘body’ that can function in a different realm, but recognizable to our loved ones. I have read 2 of the books you listed…. (and Stumbling Toward Heaven).


  4. I’ve read three of the four books you mention. When my mother died very suddenly and without warning in 1990 of an apparent heart attack and stroke (at the age of 65), there was much between us that was left unsettled. For several years afterward I wondered in turmoil where she was and if she was alright. Some would say this was just my subconscious mind trying to soothe me but then I had a dream which I still remember in detail. My mother and I were talking on the phone, about mundane stuff; the kind of stuff you talk about when you talk by phone almost every day with someone you love. Suddenly in the dream I realized my mother was dead and gone and I should grab this opportunity to ask her something important! I frantically yelled, “Mom, where are you? Are you alright?” and the phone line crackled into silence; we were cut off. I mused over that dream a long time. Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe it was just my own self trying to work things out but I believed then as now that it was my mom’s way of letting me know she was alright, and she was alive … somewhere else … that we won’t know about in detail until the time we pass over that threshhold ourselves. In all my searchings since then I haven’t come across anything that makes me think I’m wrong; my mother wanted me to know she’s ok and she still exists!

    1. Thanks Rob, for the reply! Sounds like you have a lot of dreams … so do I. I can tell
      the difference between a wacky dream of my own and a GOD dream. The God dream
      always sticks with me … for YEARS!

      I think maybe God allows the departed one to be real in a dream as a way of giving
      hope and comfort to those left behind. But not everyone dreams alot, so for those
      who don’t dream, maybe God allows the departed person into their reality in another
      way. At least I’d like to think that!

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