Visits from deceased loved ones

Dear Dr. Neimeyer,

How do you get love ones that passed away to come visit you more often?


Dear Taylor—

One interesting response to your question might be to consider the analogy to another context that is more familiar: How do we get living loved ones to visit us more often? Surely one response is that we need to make time for them, and to extend the sort of hospitality that makes them feel welcome, and that the visit will be interesting, warm, and enjoyable.

Inviting post mortem visitation might draw on similar principles. For example, setting aside quiet time to relive positive memories of our loved ones or carry out symbolic conversations with them can be active ways of reaching out, just as recording positive dreams of the deceased immediately upon awakening can prime us for more such dream activity. Meditation and prayer can also create a space to cultivate a sense of contact with those we have loved and physically lost. And including them in natural ways in our lives by reminiscing with others about them can help ensure they have a place in our ongoing lives. Finally, just as few friends and family will be eager to have extended visits to our home if every day is filled with depression and despair, our deceased loved ones might appreciate our hospitality more if they can witness our moments of enjoyment, pride and celebration, and in this way help them stay connected to life. Ultimately, more visitors may come to the home made ready than to the house that is shuttered, with locked gates that close it off from the world.

–Dr. Neimeyer

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