After Death Communications

What Are After Death Communications & What You Need To Know

After Death Communications is a broad term that covers a variety of different encounters that someone can experience with a passed loved one. It is decided by the deceased person when, where, and how they will connect with us; it is often defined as a direct and spontaneous event (Bill Guggenheim).

These experiences are extremely personal, and they also vary in degrees; some may come across as quite subtle while others appear obvious. In all its intensities and forms, After Death Communications are someone contacting you from their afterlife. Most of these incidents occur within a year of the death (Susan Kwilecki); however, there is no timeline to when a loved one may reconnect with you.

Types Of After Death Communications

There are known to be many different ways that a loved one can provide contact after death and they pertain to any of our senses; they are ways for us to experience that connection with our loved one and often they stimulate a sense that there is life beyond death.

It is important to understand that, if you experienced something that does not fall under one of these categories, it does not mean that it was not a loved one trying to reach you. Since these types of spiritual incidents are so personal and significant, the way your loved one seeks your attention could be different.

SENSING A PRESENCE

Often when a loved one has passed away, we get this intuitive feeling that they are still there; sometimes, though, this sensation is so strong that it truly does feel as if that person were standing or sitting right next to us.

People dismiss this feeling because of the absence of any physical evidence, such as a visual or auditory cue, as their imagination or mind playing tricks on them, especially if this occurs relatively soon after the death. That being said, sensing the presence of a deceased loved one so strongly is just as valid of an experience as if you saw or heard them.

HEARING THEIR VOICE

These auditory After Death Communications can be either external or internal; this means that some people hear their loved one’s voice out loud as if someone were speaking, and some receive voice messages through their minds. These internal connections are more common. In all these cases, the communication is usually no longer than a simple sentence.

THE FEELING OF BEING TOUCHED

When it comes to our loved ones, we can often distinguish them apart from others, whether by the sound of the footsteps up the stairs or the way they jingle their keys before coming through the door; this is also sometimes the case with physical touch. You know the way that special person feels when they touch you or hug you.

One sign of After Death Communication is feeling like you have been touched by your lost loved one; it could be a hug, a kiss, a pat on the back, or any other physical sensation. They serve as little reminders that your person is still with you.

SMELLING THEIR FRAGRANCE

Similar to how we individualize the sounds a person makes or how their touch feels, we also associate certain aromas with them; scent is the most memory-provoking of the senses. Smelling a fragrance that was very closely connected to your lost loved one, such as a perfume or cologne, a certain type of flowers, cigars, a specific meal they cooked, or a detergent they always used can be a sign of a loved one communicating after death.

PHYSICAL PHENOMENA

This type of After Death Communication comes in many forms. Often this form of connection comes through electronic devices like lights flickering, stereos turning on and off, or the television activating.

Other times things around the house move or fall unexplainably or appliances get turned on. Another common sign people receive is through a message on the telephone, both in dreams and in real life.

SYMBOLS

We all have certain things that we hold dear to us because they remind us of a past loved one: an animal or flower, a certain song or poem, rainbows, something they collected like coins or shells. When these symbols come to us, it can be a sign of a deceased loved one telling us that they are present and watching over us.

Symbols are interesting because they signal an exchange in language from one world to the next (Kwilecki); it is an intimate, subtle, and beautiful way to signal life beyond death.

SEEING YOUR LOVED ONE

This sign varies in degrees as the visual experience can either be partial or full; the figure that you see could be blurred, unclear, or seem more incomplete or you could see your loved one in full bodily form as if they were solid. Sometimes verbal interactions can take place, but not always.

When a loved one appears to someone in their true form, people most often report that the person looks happy and at peace.

SLEEPING

After Death Communication signs that occur while asleep are similar to dreams; however, they are reported to be more intense and feel more real than a typical dream. In these instances, people can have conversations with their deceased loved one which can be either one-sided or two-sided. Unlike when you wake up from a dream and forget it quickly or cannot make sense of what happened, these signs that come while you are sleeping are typically easy to make sense of since they are more realistic.

Who Can Experience After Death Communications?

The authors of Hello from Heaven! Bill and Judy Guggenheim studied After Death Communications. To better understand these occurrences and gather accurate information for their book, they interviewed 2,000 people from all over the United States and Canada and they compiled more than 3,000 firsthand accounts of perceived communication from passed loved ones.

In this study, people from all places and ages—the interviewees ranged from eight years old to ninety-two—had stories about this type of communication.

From this study, and simply from the wide range of different types of After Death Communications and how personal of an experience it is, it is evident that anyone can be contacted by a loved one after death. Regardless of what someone’s background looks like financially, socially, educationally, or religiously, they could receive signs from the dead. Since these experiences and the circumstances are so vast, it is almost impossible to know who will experience contact with a deceased loved one, why they will, or when (Jennifer Penberthy et al.).

Where Are After Death Communications Common?

Due to the individuality of a spiritual experience like After Death Communications, it is difficult to pinpoint the places where it is likely to happen; despite this, there are certain locations that more frequently warrant contact from a deceased loved one.

IN THE HOME YOU SHARED

It may seem obvious, but if you shared a home with this person, it could be likely that they will appear to you somehow in this space. Sharing a space so intimately with someone cultivates a strong bond, and this type of connection could stimulate communication from this person.

If your loved one had a specific seat at the table or a chair in the living room, any sort of area in your shared home that was, without needing to be named, “theirs”, could be spots that are extra sensitive to signs.

IN YOUR DREAMS

As we discussed earlier, your loved one may choose to come to you not when you're waking, but instead when you are sleeping. They may appear to you—and speak to you—in a dream which is often vivid.

AT A SPECIAL PLACE

Places carry great significance for us as humans because we attach memories, emotions, and people to them; this remains the case even when the people we associate with those places are gone.

An After Death Communication sign may come to you while in a specific park that you two liked to go to, a hotel you visited often on vacation or a specific vacation destination, a restaurant you regularly ate out at, or a movie theatre you attended often. Wherever the place is that you are reminded of your loved one or feel closest to them, this could be where they want or find it easiest to reach you.

How Should You Feel About After Death Communications?

No one can tell you how to feel. When it comes to After Death Communications, the same is the case. Some people feel uncomfortable when they have communication with spirits, whether out of fear, doubt, or stigma that sometimes surrounds the spiritual world.

Despite some negative emotions like confusion and alarm that you may feel after you have experienced something like this, you should understand that most of the research around After Death Communications claims that these incidents can have positive effects and they can change people’s beliefs (Penberthy et al.). These experiences are often described as healing, comforting, and consoling regarding immense grief that someone may be feeling (Marilyn Mendoza).  

Some people come away from these occurrences with less fear of death and a strengthened or new belief in life beyond death, a belief that communication between the living and the dead is possible, and an intensified sense of spirituality (Penberthy et al.). It can help you understand that death is not final and that connection with your loved one is still possible after death (Mendoza).

Ways To Stay Connected After Death

Whether or not you experience After Death Communications from your loved one, it is still important for healing and progressing to stay connected to that person; after all, they were significant to you alive, so they should continue to be valued in death. If you are grieving or trying to accept their death, this can be difficult because you feel like you want to stop thinking about it; however, finding the right way to honor that person for you and them can mean more than you may believe.

When someone passes, we are left only with the memory of them, and this can seem sad and distressing because we know that memories do not last forever. Learning how to honor and keep those memories for as long as possible can help with your healing process and keep the love you shared with them presentThere are many ways to stay connected through their memory, and here are some we thought may be helpful to you: to have something with you, to do for yourself, to share with others. Let's take a look at each one.

TO HAVE SOMETHING WITH YOU

Humans are very physical creatures and sometimes, without tangible reminders, we forget about things and people; it is no fault of our own—we have busy lives and many people and things to think about. A way to stay connected with a past loved one that can be very helpful for people who find it hard to remember things without physical reminders is to get some sort of object that represents or holds some of that person; this way, you can always have them with you and forever be physically and emotionally connected.

Cremation Jewelry Or Keepsakes

Cremation jewelry allows you to always keep your loved one close; it is jewelry that holds ash like a necklace, ring, bracelet, or keychain. They are versatile so that there is one that can suit anybody. It is intimate and something that you can have with you everywhere.

Your connection with that person will never be lost for as long as you keep a piece of them with you. Check out our collection on the site which has many beautiful options; there is something for everyone.


Ashes Into Jewelry

You can also have some of your loved one’s ashes mixed into the jewelry itself. This is a very unique way to keep that loved one close to you and to have something personal made to cherish forever. These pieces also come in all kinds of forms: necklaces, rings, earrings, and so on. We provide a guide to buying ashes into jewelry to help you choose the perfect piece.


Photo Engraved Jewelry Or Keepsake

As humans, we are visual creatures, and having these types of reminders which are so beautiful and vivid, helps us maintain a connection that could be lost with death. When you get a piece of photo engraved jewelry that is completely customizable to your preferences and lifestyle, you give yourself a small portrait that you can carry with you everywhere.

You can choose a picture of them or both of you together that reminds you of the love you shared. Our site offers many options in the form of jewelry with pictures of color or black and white, and we have photo urns and keychains as well. These can be amazing pieces of memorial jewelry. 


Fingerprint Jewelry Or Keepsake

Here at Everlasting Memories, we have a beautiful collection of fingerprint jewelry and keepsakes that allow you to have and feel the touch of your passed loved one forever. These pieces can have shapes or names engraved on them as well as just the fingerprint.

You can also get fingerprint pieces made with ashes to make it even more personal. Your connection with that person will never be lost while carrying their touch with you.


Writing Engraved Jewelry Or Keepsake

Words are so important, and we often attribute certain sayings or phrases to people, especially those who are significant to us. If your loved one had a popular saying or if you two shared an inside joke or nickname, consider engraving this on a piece of jewelry that you can carry with you everywhere.

You can also have their signature engraved on something or maybe a phrase that they once wrote on a birthday card; whatever it is, choose something special and get it engraved on something that you will feel a connection with, whether it is a necklace, a keepsake box, a memorial coin, or a memorial magnet. You will always have their writing and that can never be lost.

TO DO FOR YOURSELF

Loss and grief are personal endeavors, and while it is important to make sure that the people around you are dealing with it in a healthy way, it is just as crucial finding ways that help you stay connected and heal throughout this process. Spend time doing things or going places that maintain a relationship with your passed person; these things should speak to you and genuinely make you feel a connection. Do them for yourself and for honoring that person you loved so deeply.

Speak To Them

Talking aloud to a deceased loved one may feel odd or perhaps you feel like it has no effect; however, speaking directly to that person as if they were still there or as if they could answer you can help you remain connected in a way that feels very real. You may get the sense that they truly are listening and are helping you through whatever it is you are experiencing.

Some people talk out loud on their way to work, while they are cooking, or before bed like a prayer. Whatever way gives you a sense of connection and serves as a reminder of their presence can be helpful and meaningful.

Write Them Letters

Writing things down has been known to have very therapeutic effects; this is why journals and diaries are so common. Sometimes when we write, we discover thoughts and feelings that we did not know we had. 

Addressing a letter to your lost loved one and writing down how you feel, updates on your life, or questions you have for them can be valuable in healing and in staying connected. You can keep these letters or get rid of them as if you had sent them off—whatever feels more meaningful. If you are confused or intrigued by this method, consider taking a look at our article How To Write Letters As A Form Of Grieving to learn more.

Go To A Significant Place

If there was a specific place that you attended often with your loved one or a place where you share significant memories with them, revisiting this place every once in a while, or as often as you like can maintain that sense of connection with that person. You may feel as if they are right next to you again. Being back in that place can trigger your memories and allows you to remember them vividly and frequently so that connection is never truly lost.

Get A Portrait Or Painting Done

To give yourself a constant reminder of your loved one and to honor them in a special and creative way, consider getting a commemoration memorial portrait done of them to have in a significant place in your home. This remembrance memorial portrait will serve as a way to connect with that person each time you see it; it will remind you of their beauty and love and keeps them as a forever part of your home.

TO SHARE WITH OTHERS

Although loss is devastating and difficult, it is also often a time when people come together to celebrate a life they all loved and cherished. Everyone needs help healing sometimes. By finding ways to communally connect with your deceased loved one, you can help yourself and those around you, and also bring peace to that person who can watch the people they love come together. Humans share lives—we are social creatures—and thus it is natural for us to want to gather and help each other when loss strikes.

Tell Stories

Storytelling can be a great way to stay connected to your loved one, and it can also help others deal with the loss of that person. Sharing these funny, heart-warming, and nostalgic moments with family and friends can guide you through your grief and can arouse in others some positive emotions where they may have only felt negative ones. You can never lose a connection with someone if you continue reminiscing and talking about them in your life.


Create A Ritual

A great way to commemorate and remember a loved one is to create a ritual for them. For example, on special occasions or holidays, you could set a place for them at the table to honor their memory and feel their presence again. Some people like to light candles. There are many ways to include the deceased in your festivities and to welcome their memory.


Honor Their Favorite Charity

By donating money or volunteering at a charity that was meaningful to your loved one, you both help yourself stay connected with them and their purpose, and you also provide care and attention to those that benefit from the charity. You help keep your person’s legacy and love alive in a valuable way and you continue serving a cause that they held close to their heart; this can cultivate a rich connection between you and the deceased.


Repurpose Their Things

We have an article that outlines some excellent ways to repurpose your beloved’s things for yourself and to gift them to others who were close to them as well. This way you can keep around their material things and can also help other people stay connected to the deceased throughout their life.


Create A Photo Album Or Keepsake Book

Gathering photos, newspaper articles, tickets, and other memories to place together in an album or scrapbook connects you to your loved one both in the assembly of the book and each time you reach for it after that. Ask around to friends and family for pictures of that person and put together a beautiful logbook of the life they had. You can connect to them by viewing what they did and saw in their life, as well as how they contributed to your life and those around you.


Make A Grave Or Memorial Site

Creating a special place for the loved one to rest is a very common and valuable idea. You and anyone else who loved that person could visit them and connect to them whenever is needed. You can also invest in some personalized memorial gifts to make the space unique and meaningful regarding what your person would have wanted. We have some on our site you could look through and there are many other creative ideas for grieving friends and families.


Get A Cremation Urn

Containing your loved one in a beautiful artisan urn to keep in your home can help you feel more connected to them; you can always feel their presence and you can honor them with unique urns. Having a keepsake urn helps keep your loved one safe and close by whenever you miss them or feel the need for connection.

We offer many different options as each person is individual, like photo urns and other cremation urns; having so many options can be overwhelming because you want this piece to be perfect for your loved one, so take a look at our guide for some help making this decision.

Helping You Deal With After Death Communications

Being contacted by a deceased loved one is not always an easy incident to deal with; it is spiritual, confusing, and can sometimes be life-changing. If you decide to speak about your experience, it is important to go to someone who you love and trust or someone knowledgeable about these types of events. Even if you do not wish to talk directly about your experience, After Death Communications can stir up many strong emotions and questions, so reaching out to unravel those feelings or find out more may prove helpful to you.

SPEAK WITH A CLOSE FAMILY MEMBER OR FRIEND

For most of us, the first person we want to talk to after a significant event is our mother, father, partner, or another family member or best friend; this can be the case when you experience After Death Communications.

It is likely that if you were close to the deceased person, those close to you knew them too. It can help to relay your contact with them to someone else who knew them because they may be able to help you decipher the message. Also, by sharing your experience with others, you may be able to provide them with some comfort or relief; perhaps they were waiting for a sign from a deceased loved one and it came through you, or maybe they needed some closure as to if this person was in a better place and looking out for their survivors.

SPEAK WITH A COUNSELOR OR THERAPIST

After a loss, our emotions can be overwhelming, so whether you are experiencing signs from a spirit or not, it can be healthy to speak to a professional about your loss and how you are coping; they can help you work through your anger, confusion, and sadness.

If you feel you have been communicating with spirits, a therapist or counselor can help you deal with the emotions that may arise. Having an experience from beyond the grave can be frightening, heart-warming, and anything in between; you may need someone to guide you through this confusing time. They may be able to help you distinguish what you should take from a message from a loved one, or they can direct you forward in your life after this meaningful event.

MEET WITH A SUPPORT GROUP

Whether you feel alone during this time and through an after death experience, or you are eager to share your story, meeting with a support group or gathering with other people who have had similar encounters can help you make sense of this event. Sometimes speaking with a friend or family who does not relate, understand, or believe what has happened can make this experience harder for you.

Meeting with people who support you and who are likewise learning to deal with loss and understand signs from their deceased loved ones can prove to be a meaningful exercise. You may learn other ways your loved one is trying to contact you through the stories that other people describe.

SPEAK WITH A PSYCHIC OR MEDIUM

Although After Death Communications do not reach you through psychics or mediums, you may wish to visit one after you have received a sign; this could spark your interest or desire to communicate more with your passed loved one, and it may solidify the knowledge that they are still present with you and you two can be in contact.

If visiting a medium is part of your beliefs, it could prove to be a healing and knowledgeable experience. It can give you a chance to reach out to your loved one instead of waiting or hoping for them to contact you again.

SEEK OUT A PRIEST OR CHURCH ELDER

For some people, faith and religion are very important, especially when it comes to death. A priest or church elder may be able to help you deal with and understand a message that a loved one has sent you. They can also console you and guide you in your life after such a loss.

Often, other than psychics, religious figures know the most and are seen as most connected to the spiritual realm and the afterlife, so it is understandable why you would seek their attention and advice.

SPEND TIME ALONE

Sometimes you may not want to seek help from anybody after the spirit of a loved one communicates with you; you may instead want to be by yourself to revel in the experience, make sense of it, or simply appreciate their presence. It may be difficult for you to talk about the event—at least right away—and spending time by yourself or in a place that was meaningful to that person may be the best thing for you.

After Death Communications Frequently Asked Questions

Are After Death Communications real?

Whatever your beliefs are, if you or someone you know has felt that a passed loved one has been in contact, then that is most likely what has happened. In research, After Death Communications are considered real, and by the people who experience them, they are significant events (Penberthy et al.). They deserve to be validated, understood, and valued.

How do you communicate with a loved one that has passed away?

An After Death Communication is known to be something that is solely initiated and executed by the spirit. As difficult as it can be to sit around and wait for a sign, it is not much easier to try to contact the spirit of a loved one yourself. Certain people are more equipped to deal with these types of requests, like psychics and mediums.

One way to facilitate communication between you and your deceased loved one is by managing your grief. Sometimes the grief that you are feeling because of the loss can block you from any communication that person attempts (“After-Death Communication and Signs”). If you are struggling with the grief of your loss, take the time to look at resources that can help you during this time.

Is it normal to talk to someone after they have died?

During a time of loss, and even forever afterward, everyone deals with it differently. It is quite common for people to talk, both in their heads and aloud, to someone they have lost. Some people do this to feel as if their loved one is still there, that they are getting help from that person, and that their lives remain connected. If talking to this person helps you in any way, continue to do so; you are not alone in this habit.

What does my loved one want to tell me?

Only you will be able to understand what the message from your loved one is meant to be. Sometimes they simply want to assure you that they are happy and whole, and they want to ease your suffering. In some reports, people state that their deceased parents provide them with the support or guidance that they should have given while alive (Penberthy et al.). After Death Communications are so personal and are experienced between two people so connected that only they can decipher its true meaning.

How do I know if my loved one is trying to communicate with me?

As we have seen, it can sometimes be hard to distinguish a resurge of memories or an intense feeling of grief from After Death Communications. If you feel as if any of the occurrences that happen are the doings of your loved one or if you get a strong sense of their presence in the form of a voice, a figure, a symbol, or something else significant, then you can be confident that your loved one is trying to bring you peace and love.

Should I tell others about my After Death Communication Sign?

Since After Death Communication signs are so personal and can mean so much to you, it is understandable both to want to tell others—perhaps people that were also close to that person—or to keep it to yourself and close to your own heart as an experience that is only for you.

These experiences are not always positive, so if it was distressful to you, you may not want to discuss them (Penberthy et al.). Also, there can sometimes still be a stigma around communication with the dead, so some people are reluctant to share their stories; this being said, it is reported that simply sharing After Death Communication incidents can have positive benefits (Mendoza).

What does it mean if I have not had any After Death Communications?

Not everyone will experience an After Death Communication sign; this does not mean that your loved one is not missing you, watching over you, or that they are not at peace. Since it is up to them to contact you, you do not get to decide when or even if you receive any communication.

As we mentioned earlier, sometimes our grief is so overwhelming that any signs our loved one is trying to send us get blocked out or are mistaken as just a memory (“After-Death Communication and Signs”); so, if you feel you have not been reached by your loved one, maybe it will take some more time for you to come to accept the loss and allow the signs to get through.

Communications From Beyond & Moving Forward

Experiencing After Death Communications can make you feel all kinds of emotions. They are extremely intimate and spiritual incidents, and it is up to you to decide how to deal with them, understand them, and what to do moving forward. 

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is difficult, and sometimes that person simply wants to reassure you that they are okay and that they are still with you. Whether you or someone you know has experienced a sign from their loved one, cherish it and always remember that the connection you had with them is not lost.

References:

“After-Death Communication and Signs.” Grief and Mourning, https://griefandmourning.com/after-death-communication-and-signs.  

Guggenheim, Bill. “After-Death Communication Experiences.” Life After Life, 21 July 2019, https://lifeafterlife.com/blog/after-death-communication-adc-experiences-adcs/. 

Kwilecki, Susan. “Twenty-First-Century American Ghosts: The After Death Communication Therapy and Revelation from Beyond the Grave.” Religion and American Culture, vol. 19, no. 1, January 2009, pp. 101-133, https://www.proquest.com/docview/205887020?accountid=14701&parentSessionId=pf WKwi80OCzFsQJ%2FLqb9jlqqUypRqiPwgwAZWX%2BSAg%3D&pq-origsite=primo. 

Mendoza, Marilyn A.. “The Healing Effects of After Death Communications.” Psychology Today, 4 July 2017, https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/understanding grief/201707/the-healing-effects-after-death-communications. 

Penberthy, Jennifer K.. et al.. “Factors Moderating the Impact of After Death Communications on Beliefs and Spirituality.” Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 9 July 2021, https://journals-sagepub com.proxy.bib.uottawa.ca/doi/full/10.1177/00302228211029160. 

July 31, 2022 by Frances Kay