Who Said You Can’t Take It With You?

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In the movie GLADIATOR the main character, General Maximus made a very profound statement…. “What we do in life echoes in eternity.”  That most certainly means that what we do echoes into the afterlife also.

As a paranormal investigator, I am always looking at the possibility that there is something of the living that lingers after their body has ceased to function.As a paranormal investigator, I am always looking at the possibility that there is something of the living that lingers after their body has ceased to function.  The next question is if that which lingers, that divine spark we call our soul or spirit, creates paranormal activity?  If a spirit has chosen to stick around, why would they do so when there is a promise of an eternity of joy in many religions as well as a chance to re-unite with other loved ones who have already passed on?

When I began training to be a ghost hunter, one of the things I heard often is that as we were in life we are in death.  Since we all seem to have a load of emotional baggage that we carry around with us it stands to reason that many spirits carry their load into the afterlife.  Some ghosts may have a lighter load than others because of a less stressful life.  Others may have been so traumatized by those around them that they have steamer trunks full of pain, anger and sorrow that they never put down.

We all know people who carry a permanent chip on their shoulder because of perceived wrongs done to them.  There may even have been actual difficulties in their lives.  What if they carry that feeling of agony into their death?  Through the years of life that emotion may have magnified till it became the focus of their life…….and then their afterlife.  But then there are those wonderful people we have had in our lives who only seemed to love and live to cherish and love others.  They seemed to always put others first and themselves second, caring for others before themselves.

If we do feel and act in death as we did in life, think of the ramifications.  Perhaps a family moves into a house that is possibly haunted by a deceased woman who was abused by her husband.  The fact that there is now a male in the house may start paranormal activity which can accelerate if the man also resembles her ghost’s former husband.  The activity may be centered around the man.

On the other hand, the home might be allegedly haunted by a woman or man who suffered the loss of a child at a young age when they lived in the house.  If young children now inhabit the home, any activity may center around the children and be of a loving and protective nature.  Furthermore, if the spirit of a deceased child is present the possibility is that they will want to interact with the living children.  What child can resist playing with another?  Even a shy child will eventually become encouraged to make friends when there are toys and laughter involved… no matter if they are alive or in spirit

In my past columns, I have spoken of the courage and commitment of first responders and those who served their country in the armed forces.  Does this courage and commitment die along with their bodies?  Perhaps this explains the continuing marches on long silent battlefields or on the planes, ships and bases that were once the home of members of our servicemen and women.

Working in a hospital for over 42 years, I know that some of the staff still lingers there even after their bodies have ceased to exist.  Several of my friends who are first responders have also mentioned the fact that unseen hands have sometimes seemed to help in the times of disaster.

In the quiet, loving spaces that are houses of worship we often feel at peace.  Many of the local churches have been known to have former parishioners linger to enjoy a service or two.  When I was a young girl, there was a kind and talented older gentleman who played the violin often in the church I attended.  He has been seen carrying his instrument through that chapel.  The story I had heard from my Mother was that he lost his daughter under unfortunate circumstances and he sought solace in his music and sharing it with others.  As in life, he was in death.

On the other hand, there was a local church (no longer standing) called by the name of “Restitution”.  That name has always sounded forbidding and I always wondered if it was an old time “fire and brimstone” church where hell was mentioned more than heaven.  The building had always felt less inviting than most churches we had visited and the ghosts that we encountered there seemed unhappy or disapproving.  If any parishioners chose to stay there I always wondered if they were still there out of fear that they had not been good enough to pass on to their rewards?

One of my first encounters with a ghost was in a very historic old home that was commonly called “The Robinson Spook House.”  There seemed to be several layers of ghostly inhabitants there.  Several seemed to be from an early era with the last owner who actually lived in the house being the most recent spirit.  The emotions and baggage contained in that house ran the gamut.  One of the ghosts seemed to be, by indication of the EVP sessions and activity, a very controlling and angry man.  A young girl and a woman who was possibly her mother were there and they seemed to show fear and the feeling of entrapment.  The former owner just seemed to be hanging around.  Since there was a rumor that he had hidden money in the house, he may have just been there guarding it.  All of the spirits who were still there seemed to be attached not just to the house but the emotions they felt while living there.  Not only did their spirits stay but the emotions that they had while their bodies were still there.  It was like spiritual or emotional DNA embedded in the house.

I would like to put forth another possible reason that spirits linger.  What I have discussed so far is why a ghost might linger for their own reasons.  When we suffer the death of someone we care about, our first reaction is that we wish they were still here.  We possibly have regrets about what we did or didn’t say to them before they passed.  The feeling of loss is physical also.  What wouldn’t we do to hug or kiss them one more time.  The feeling of shock might be so great that we expect them to walk through the door again at any moment.

If the theory that a ghostly spirit is the intelligent energy that is left behind when the body dies is true, it stands to reason that it recognizes and is aware of those it left behind.  Not only does the spirit know the pain and anguish caused by their death, they may be mirroring it because of the very same reasons.  They too wish they could talk to the living, hug them one more time and carry on with their everyday lives.  Rather than the “normal” reasons that a ghost is thought to linger (entrapment, unfinished business, sudden death, etc.) the spirit may feel they need to linger to help their loved one cope with grief and help them heal. In essence, they may become trapped in grief……both theirs and that of their loved ones.

While it may be true that you can’t take your possessions with you when you go, you surely can take your emotional baggage with you.  In recent days in this area we have suffered quite a bit of loss of life; sudden and traumatic and painful.  Not just to the families involved but to the whole community.  Sometimes it takes incidents like these to remind us that death comes to all of us.  We don’t know the timetable but we can prepare for the inevitable.  Love and cherish, forgive easily, think of our mistakes as lessons, and try not to carry a grudge.  When my body decides to expire, I want my spirit to choose when and why to linger.  Not because I tried to take it with me but because I choose to only take the important things with me… love.

This column is dedicated to the people who have shown me how to love, my parents who were united in love in the month of June and were re-united in love in the month of June.

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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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