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Death Stud. 2011 Mar;35(3):219-43.

Ghosts, meaning, and faith: after-death communications in bereavement narratives.

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Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Radford University, Virginia, 24142, USA.


After-death communications (ADCs) are reported encounters with a deceased loved one, a contemporary type of ghost experience heralded as therapeutic in coping with bereavement. Pertinent literature generally illustrates the healing power of ADCs with brief self-contained episodes. The functions of ADCs over the course of grief need exploration. To that end, this article analyzes 20 published book-length autobiographical stories of bereavement in which authors report ADCs. Two functional patterns are identified--instantaneous relief from painful grief symptoms and reinforcement of a consoling religious worldview. The second dynamic links ADCs to meaning-making and religious coping within Christian and Spiritualist frameworks.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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