The idea of death has probably been the most culturally conceptualized one, since the earliest times.
The diversity of cultures produces uncountable ideas regarding the death and afterlife and yet, the essence of it is the same for everyone.
Death is inevitable, and the clue to why is that so is still unknown to human beings, just as the uncertainty of the afterlife is.
If we look at that from a strictly scientific angle, we could offer some straightforward answers, of course.
However, people are not meant to think only in scientific, experimental-experiential categories.
We are composed of mind, body, and soul. Our spirit is another dimension of our existence and being, one connecting us with the source of everything.
All religious and belief systems have their idea of what the source of our existence is, and where could be the end of it.
However, although we know death is a part of life, something that we inevitably happen to all of us, we cannot comprehend it.
We do not know what happens after we die, and the uncertainty of that notion makes us anxious.
Various religious paths offer different ideas on what happens after passing away.
The phrase ’passing away’ could be a good way to address it.
When someone passes away, we think of it as a passing, in the literal sense.
Someone has left this earthly life and passed to the other side.
Now, there are millions of ideas of what awaits there.
However, the idea of passing is interesting in itself, as it does not allow to think us about the ending.
Human beings have a hard time accepting death as a part of our existence, and there could be many interpretations of that innate rejection of death.
The logical answer would be a simple one: we fear losing people we love, and fear losing our own life and the joy of it.
However, if we look into mythology and religion, we might reach some different conclusions.
In the Book of Genesis, the first humans, Adam and Eve, were created immortal. Once they broke the commandment of God, they lost their immortality.
The following generations of humankind gradually lost their longevity, all due to the way we, as humans, acted.
The loss of immortality and the shortening of our time could be associated with sin, with pride being the root of all.
Whatever the cause of death, as a phenomenon, it happens. We lose people we care deeply for and, eventually, we die.
Some think of it simply as a part of a natural process, and some think of it in terms of the divine plan.
The Death and the Afterlife
The ideas about death and what follows death are different, in different religious systems, folk beliefs, and mythologies.
In most of the ancient, pagan religions, there is an idea about the afterlife and the place of an individual in it.
The famous Egyptian Book of the Dead depicts the judgment of the soul of the deceased person.
The heart of the person is put on a scale, with a feather on the opposite tassel.
If the heart proves heavier, it is to be devoured by an underworld creature.
If it proves lighter, it passes on to the afterlife. Similar ideas are present in other ancient cults and cultures.
What interests us here is did they believe they could communicate with the deceased.
The offerings associated with burial rites prove people think of the dead as passing to another realm.
If we take Time as a human category, and Eternity as a divine one, then we could easily conclude we all still exist, both the living and the dead.
People have always made offerings to the dead. They would bury them with their belongings and additional sacred or valuable items, for they would need them on the other side.
On anniversaries of someone’s death, people would make offerings as well.
In Christian tradition, we have many such examples. We, the living ones, pray for the souls of the deceased.
We show them we love them and care about their well-being if something like that could be said.
Do they know it and understand it? The truth is, no one can tell for sure.
However, there have been miraculous phenomena people would experience and consider a sign from a deceased person, a proof they know they are being thought of, although they are no longer in this world.
The cult of the dead is to be found all around the world, for people have always had the sense of the importance of worshipping and appreciating their ancestors.
It is also a way of living trying to establish and/or maintain a connection with the deceased ones.
The Cult of the Dead
The cult of the dead could be found everywhere, even in places we would not normally take it so.
Candles for the soul of deceased ones are a sort of maintaining the connection with those who are no longer with us.
People pray even for those who did them no good, those who mistreated them.
The act of forgiving is relieving, and the highest form of humanness and nobility of the heart.
It is also a sort of communication with the dead, trying to resolve things.
There are various customs regarding death and the deceased, some of them bizarre to people out of a certain cultural circle.
The purpose, however, remains the same.
When it comes to such cults, practices of honoring the ancestors, or rituals associated with the deceased, following the burial, we can think of it as creating bonds with the afterlife.
Can the dead tell us how it is?
Communication With the Dead
Can we really talk with the dead people? Well, there are different opinions and many debates over the subject.
In the past, people surely believed they could converse with the dead. The whole spiritism thing was about that, although very prone to manipulation.
In our day, death became a bit of a taboo. It is not simply about our unwillingness to embrace death as a part of the natural process of life, but about the causes of a modern, urban human even to think about it.
The trend of being eternally young takes a toll, making humans completely distort their God-given nature.
Death is something no one wants to talk about, yet it happens all the time. That is the harsh truth of our reality, as it always has been.
On the other side, the fast-paced modern life, consumerism, and materialism make humans think that there is nothing more in life than this, for better or for worse.
It is a bit of a nihilistic thought, although it could appear very attractive, in form of you-only-live-once.
Those who do not have faith in a divine plan, or do not consider themselves spiritual in any other form, would say there is no life after death, thus we cannot communicate with the dead and deceased whatsoever.
Nevertheless, many people believe the same as the ancients – the deceased people’s souls are somewhere out there and they can watch over us, hear us, and know us.
Can We Communicate With the Deceased?
There are many experiences of people being convinced a deceased person has sent them a sign, as proof they can hear them, or know what they think or do, concerning them.
For example, someone starts seeing specific symbols all around.
Dreams could be taken as a powerful communication channel between the worlds.
No one knows exactly why we dream and where dreams come from.
Even the latest advances in science and technology have not solved the mystery of dreams.
Dead people can appear in our dreams. It could be an extremely intense experience, depending on our relationship with them, when they were alive.
If they say something to us in a dream, it would be very useful to recall it.
Could we consider it communication with the dead? In a way, yes. Especially if something they told us was extremely meaningful to us.
Even if it did not make sense, we should try to interpret it.
Although the appearance of the dead people in our lives, such as deceased family members, or anyone we had a strong bond with, could be taken simply as a reflection of our own suppressed or unsuppressed thoughts and feelings about them, there could still be something more to it.
Some people report strange phenomena they associated with the deceased people they personally knew.
For example, spiritual smells, experienced through clairalience could be associated with the dead and taken as a form of contact.
Other similar phenomena, such as flickering lights, repeating numbers, images, or symbols of other sorts, could also be taken as signs from the deceased.
It is usually interpreted as their expression of care, love, and support.
If we have unresolved issues with someone who has passed away, such signs could be understood as signs of reconciliation, forgiveness, allowance to move on, etc.
All these are could be understood as a bridge between the realm of the dead and our own, a channel of communication.
The mystery of death, the afterlife, eternity and time, and our place within infinity is still the most puzzling existential question to all humans.
Do the Dead Know We Love and Miss Them?
The answer to the question of whether the dead know we love and miss them could be answered depending on the starting point.
Those who do not believe there is life after death or any form of existence after you die would answer with a resounding no.
However, those who believe that there the boundaries between worlds are a bit more fluid than it appears might give you a completely different answer.
For example, seeing something that reminds you of a person who has passed away, without seeking it, or even thinking about the person at the time, could be a sign they know that there is a place for them in your heart and your thoughts.
Dreaming about a deceased person saying something important to you could be interpreted the same way.
The answer to this question cannot be straightforward or simple, because we, the living people, do not have the access to the realm that lies on the other side.
The dead cannot cross the borders they have passed and talk to us directly.
They could be using channels of different sorts, symbols, and signs, to tell us they know we love them, miss them, honor and think about them.
For example, it is believed that a deceased person could somehow enter a body of an animal, or take the form of an inanimate object.
Typically, butterflies and doves have been associated with the souls of the deceased.
When it comes to objects, they could be something valuable and symbolic, and usually something meaningful only to you.
Some even claim the dead could appear in the physical form, although it is considered particularly strange and definitely not common.
Many people firmly believe that the dead ones watch over us and protect us from danger.
There were real stories about people convinced that a deceased loved person has saved them from a car crash, for example.
If they watch over us and make sure we thread our path as safely as we could, then surely they also know we think about them and still love them. It could give us great solace, inner peace, and hope.
Communication With the deceased Through a Medium
Some people use the services of mediums who claim they have psychic powers and can communicate with the dead.
Now, this is a tricky area, for it is, of course, a field very prone to deception and manipulation.
It is not easy to tell for sure if a medium is a real thing, or fake.
Some people claim they have communicated with their loved ones through experienced mediums.
There have even been television documentaries where people spoke to their deceased through a medium.
A medium is supposed to help the living establish a connection with someone who has passed away, for various reasons.
Sometimes people simply miss their loved ones so much, so they want to make sure they know it.
At other times, the initial need to contact the deceased person is more sensitive and it often has to do with unresolved arguments, not saying farewell, behaving badly towards someone, and thus losing the opportunity to make amends.
Some claim this experience was truly miraculous as if they could really hear the deceased one, confirming they know what is going on.
Many say they received the so much-desired confirmation that the deceased knew they love and miss them greatly.