Reports of encountering a deceased loved one are not uncommon. Image Credit: sxc.hu –
Paranormal experiences involving a deceased loved one are not as uncommon as most people would believe – that is according to researchers at the University of Milan who conducted an extensive study in to cases of ‘post-bereavement hallucinatory experiences’ (PBHEs).
“Overall, evidence suggests a strikingly high prevalence of PBHEs – ranging from 30% to 60% – among widowed subjects, giving consistence and legitimacy to these phenomena,” they wrote.
Jacqueline Hayes of the University of Roehampton, who has also studied the phenomenon for several years, prefers to use the term ‘experiences of continued presence’ (ECPs).
“People report visions, voices, tactile sensations, smells, and something that we call a sense of presence that is not necessarily related to any of the five senses,” she said.
“They happen involuntarily, and, for example, not while someone is deliberately “remembering”. They are always significant to the bereaved and continue some aspect of the relationship with a loved one; sometimes they also magnify it.”
While it isn’t clear exactly what is taking place during these experiences, some researchers believe that they may be similar to the flashbacks reported by sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Dr Hayes on the other hand maintains that there is something more going on.
“ECPs can occur for many years afterwards, and even when the bereaved are no longer experiencing trauma and they are usually not in the form of flashbacks but can be quite new experiences,” she said. “Whether they are helpful or unhelpful depends on the nature of the relationship with the deceased.”