What is it about?

This case study of a Euro-American, atheistic, scientifically-minded bereaved individual shows that a bereaved person may continue to hear dead loved ones as though they still exist, for months or years after death. The experience can feel real even if the reality of the death is fully acknowledged. The bereaved person can welcome the experience and find it beneficial even when hearing the dead is not recognized as a normal part of grieving in the person’s cultural context, when no prior belief in an afterlife is present, and when no explanation is adopted.

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Why is it important?

People who hear their deceased loved ones often keep their experiences secret for fear of being ridiculed or dismissed, particularly in cultural contexts where this is not recognized as a normal part of grieving. They may also hesitate to seek mental health care during the grieving process, or if they do, may be reluctant to mention that they have such experiences, for fear of being considered mentally ill. Mental health professionals are often underprepared to deal with people who have these experiences. An increased understanding of the experience could help to reduce stigma from health care professionals and allow the bereaved to more readily use psychological services to process their grief. Recognizing that hearing the dead can be a normal experience can also help the bereaved to accept the experience without distress.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Very Present and Very Real: A Case Study of Regularly Hearing the Voice of the Deceased Without Distress in Bereavement, OMEGA - Journal of Death and Dying, August 2023, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/00302228231195104.
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