Everything I Need To Know I Learned In A Haunted House – The Butterfly Effect


Everyone leaves a ripple effect on the lives of those around them. How has your life impacted others?

butterfly effectThis past week we celebrated the official first day of summer with the longest day of the year.  In Illinois, Mother Nature had started the celebration much earlier in the month with unseasonably hot and dry weather that was relieved by a few days of hot and rainy weather.  The last several days we have had a patch of balmy weather.  Since the weather has been so gorgeous I have spent more time outside enjoying the blue skies and soft cool breeze.  The birds are celebrating the day with some beautiful chirping songs and the usual summer bugs are flitting about.

For a time, I sat in my swing and watched a butterfly floating on that same cool breeze that I was enjoying.  As it rode the air current a thought nudged me a bit.  I had heard of The Butterfly Effect but had never really explored the concept too much so I thought I would look it up.

A gentleman named Edward Lorenz, an acclaimed mathematician and meteorologist, coined the term The Butterfly Effect to explain weather that might occur – most especially tornadoes.  The theory is that small causes can create large effects on conditions that can, in turn, affect the outcome of an event.  Although it was originally used only in the context of weather events, it is now used for many other events that occur.

I’m sure you are wondering what this has to do with the paranormal but it explains things on so many levels.  When starting an investigation, data should be collected.  What are the weather conditions?  It is believed that stormy weather can produce the energy that can in turn “power up” the ability of a ghostly spirit to communicate and perhaps even make a physical appearance.  The phase of the moon and solar flares may have an effect on paranormal activity.  What are the natural elements that might have an impact?  Water…. especially running water such as a river, granite and limestone are believed to enhance and amplify a haunting.  All of these things are random details that can possibly affect the outcome of an investigation.

If you choose to go a little deeper into the paranormal, the randomness of a death can be The Butterfly Effect that causes a haunting.  I write a weekly email to a friend who lives several thousand miles away.  In the one I wrote yesterday I spoke of the accident one of my sisters-in-law was in involved in.  A drunk driver had rear ended her truck at a very high rate of speed.  When describing the wreck, I had told him that “trucks can’t stop on a dime but a life can.”  Tiny things and not so tiny things happen that cause a domino effect that end in death.  Luckily my sister-in-law is fine but a bit sore although the truck did not fare well.

Working in a hospital, I am also aware that many deaths can be long and drawn out because of chronic illnesses.  Many people fight long and hard to continue their lives and some simply continue to exist while letting the condition take over.

In my cemetery hops I often wander through the sections to read inscriptions on the stones, but the older areas are my favorite.  It seems that in the more modern graveyards family are generally buried together in what I call a family tree made of stone.  In the older cemeteries, I have observed that whole areas were set aside simply for children; what I have come to call “the nursery.”  It is heartbreaking to see how many young ones died at such an early age or in quick succession.  From the dates and names, some families lost many children.  When the dates were very close together they could have indicated an outbreak of an illness or a fire.  Something as simple as a cut could turn septic in a time when there were no medicines to fight infection. There were no IV’s to counteract severe dehydration caused by the flu. Living in a rural area in the early pioneer times meant no fire department to rush in and fight a fire and save the occupants. All of these random events and many more caused a death.

Today I watched a tape of a medic speaking on the subject of dealing with the impending death of a patient in his care.  Mathew O’Reilly is an EMT who spoke on An EMT’s Answer to “Am I Going to Die.”  Mr. O’Reilly spoke how he had struggled for years with what to say when a patient whom he was treating asked this question.  Even when he knew that death was the only outcome, he chose to lie to the patient in the belief that they might be more fearful.  Dealing with a motorcyclist who was aware but who was soon to die, Mr. O’Reilly chose to tell him the truth and watched as the gentleman chose to meet death with peace and acceptance.  This changed his attitude on how to answer that question.

On another occasion, working an accident scene with a trapped driver, Mr. O’Reilly was once again asked this question by the patient who was injured so severely she would most probably die before she could be freed from the vehicle.  She was worried that she had not made an impact on her world and she felt she had so much more to accomplish before she died.  Mr. O’Reilly was stationed in the vehicle, treating and calming the patient, as the firefighters worked at extricating her.  He listened as she spoke of her children whom were adopted.  The two lucky and loved young adults were going into medical school.  In her eyes, she had not made an impact on her world, but she most surely did for these children who became hers and that impact continues in all of the people who they will help when they become doctors.  The woman was not able to survive her injuries but her love and spirit lives on.

An observation that Mathew O’Reilly made through his years dealing with the emergencies of life and death is that all of those he treated spoke most often of the three things they needed before they died.  Those who were looking death in the eye wanted forgiveness and they felt regret for what they had done or not done in their lives. The dying wanted to know that they would be remembered, that their lives and actions would not be forgotten.  Most importantly, they wanted to know that their lives had some meaning…. that they had had an impact on those around them.

There seems to be many reasons why a spirit will linger after the death of their body.  Some, because of an abrupt death, may not even be aware of their death, while others choose to stay for a reason.  What I am very sure of is that most are seeking that forgiveness, remembrance and meaning that Mr. O’Reilly spoke of.  Many things put me on my path to trying to understand what has been called paranormal (although I firmly believe it is actually not paranormal but rather just normal that is not understood yet), but the one that stands out in my mind was an encounter I had with a young mother who had died in the 1800’s.  It is the butterfly effect set in my life.

When I first started training as a paranormal investigator I often went to a specific cemetery with the group I belonged to.  It was very active and a good place to test equipment while exploring history, all in a very respectful manner.  Sometimes I hear “echoes from the past” when I am investigating and this time I kept hearing a young woman crying for her baby.  When I finally located her grave, I found that she was buried with her newborn child.  The child had not been named as was the custom at that time and had died the day before the 19 year old mother.  Instinct led me to place an angel on their joint grave.  When I visited that cemetery, I always chose to end it with a stop at their stone and I often thought of the circumstances of their deaths and a wish that they would be reunited.  Most times I heard the young mother crying out for her young one so I started visualizing her holding the baby and rocking it to sleep.  Finally (and to this day) the cries ceased and I would see what I had been visualizing, that wonderful and hopeful wish that she had made when she found she would become a mother…. rocking and loving a baby in peace.  This is not a claim that I helped her in any way but an illustration of The Butterfly Effect.  This young woman chose to linger because of regrets that she had lost both her life and her child in the hope that she would be remembered and mourned and that her life, no matter how short, had been meaningful.

I often speak of the ripple effect of lives, my version of The Butterfly Effect.  I always think of our lives as a ripple from a stone thrown in a pond……what we do affects those around us which in turn affects how they act to those in their “pond.”   This mother and child died long before I drew my first breath and under circumstances I can only guess at, but they had a very strong impact on my life.  I am sure that their lives had mattered to those they loved and their death left an empty spot in the hearts of those same loved ones.

Whether you were allowed to draw even one breath as you entered this world or you lived a long life, you impact and influence many.  I am grateful to all those who have passed who manage to share their messages with me as a paranormal investigator and to the living who surround me who have done the same.  My hope is that my Butterfly Effect creates a good ripple in my world.



About Author

Rebecca Nidey

Column: Everything I Need To Know I Learned In A Haunted House | Rebecca “Becca” Nidey has been a paranormal researcher on the investigative team for the Crawford County Illinois Ghost Hunters Society since 2005.  She takes great pride in editing for and writing a monthly column for Bellesprit Magazine as well as editing books for several other authors.  Becca has been trained in and has practiced Healing Touch for over 15 years.

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