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Exploring a Recent Study on Encounters with Departed Loved Ones

The loss of a loved one can be a very difficult situation to endure. While the grieving process is unique to each person going through it, there are a number of commonalities to be found. For example, many people in the United States feel as if they have been “visited” by their deceased relatives and friends in dreams or in the form of a sign from nature. What’s most interesting about this is that the belief of being visited by the dead spans religions and cultural beliefs. Take a look at these details and learn more about this fascinating phenomenon.




The Breakdown


In a study conducted by the Pew Research Center in early 2023, it was revealed that more than 50% of the Americans polled believed that they were visited by their deceased loved ones in some form. Of these individuals, roughly 30% stated that the visitations happened within the last 12 months. According to the breakdown of participants, women were a bit more likely to admit to being visited by the dead. However, there were also a considerable number of men who acknowledged that they had similar experiences with the departed.


The Religious Backgrounds


The study involved participants from an array of religious backgrounds. What researchers discovered was that people of all faiths disclosed having some type of paranormal experience, though not all individuals described their encounters as supernatural in nature. The findings of the study also highlighted that a person did not need to belong to a traditional religious group to have such experiences. About 25% of participants who identified as atheists claimed to have been visited by departed relatives, while roughly 30% of the individuals who identified as agnostic stated having similar encounters.


The Methods of Visitation


The research also points out that people who have come in contact with departed loved ones have experienced these interactions in different ways. The most common method of being visited by the deceased is in dreams. Typically, a person will have such dreams in the years immediately following the passing of the loved one. Another common method of visitation is in the form of an animal or message from the natural world. For example, many people believe that seeing a butterfly or a specific type of bird is a sign that their relative is watching over them.


The Signs


There is also a smaller set of people who claim to have communicated with their deceased relatives and friends. Some state that their loved ones will deliver messages in dreams, guiding them through difficult decisions or offering sage advice on how to handle the future. Others claim that their loved ones communicate through the natural world. A common example of this is a beautiful sunset. People believe that witnessing such a captivating spectacle of nature is a message from their departed loved ones saying that “everything is going to be fine.”


The Limitations


While an interesting study overall, there are a handful of shortcomings to the findings. For one, participants were not asked to elaborate much on their encounters. This means that someone who dreamt about his or her relative did not explain whether they felt that the experience was metaphysical or simply an average dream. Additionally, participants were not asked to decipher the messages they believed they received from the departed. This means that many participants who admitted to interacting with the deceased might not have considered the experience to be religious or supernatural in nature.


The Future


While the grieving process can be quite complicated for most people, it can be comforting to know that people of all backgrounds have similar experiences handling loss. Learning more about these encounters can help to highlight the common ground between different religious groups when dealing with death.

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