Encounters of the Ghostly Kind

Source: Wikimedia Commons
My upcoming novel The Ghosts of Aquinnah will be published in December, 2013 and, as you may have guessed from the title, the story includes ghosts. Both the literal and the metaphorical kind.

The possibility of the existence of ghosts is something that has always fascinated me. I've always loved ghost stories and I enjoy reading about haunted places and the strange tales that go along with them. But my interest in the possibility of spirits and ghosts went into overdrive after my experience working for hospice in the 1990s.

When working for hospice, the reality of death is obviously unavoidable. I was prepared for that, or at least I thought I was, but what I was totally unprepared for was the unexplained phenomena that sometimes accompany a death.

The majority of our patients were loving people who had lived full lives surrounded by family and friends. While their deaths were sad, they were also peaceful. I was fascinated by the frequency with which these patients told us about long-dead loved ones who came to visit them in their final days. It was as if these deceased family members were coming to comfort our patients and perhaps accompany them to some other plane.

Of course, the rational explanation was that these patients were having hallucinations which brought them comfort and peace.

By contrast, I remember one patient who was a bitter and hate-filled man and, for reasons unknown to me, his family wanted nothing to do with him. I visited him one day not long before he died and it was an experience I have never forgotten.

When I walked to the patient's bed, I found him anxious and downright terrified. He kept pointing at things I couldn't see and insisting that his bed was surrounded. He screamed in fright and grabbed my hand to keep me from leaving when I told him I needed to get back to the hospice office.  He kept asking me the same thing over and over again. "Can't you see them?"

I couldn't see anything, but I can't deny that I could feel something. And what I felt made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.

I was certain I had gone completely insane, but one of the hospice nurses told me she had heard of this type of experience many times in her years working for the agency. And a chaplain friend of mine later reported a very similar encounter.

What was it that the man I visited could see but I could not? Again, the obvious answer is that he was simply experiencing a terrifying hallucination. But after being there, I will always believe it was something more, just as I felt certain that the patients who reported friendly visitors were experiencing something more than hallucinations.

I believe there are things that simply can't be explained, and it's not inconceivable to me that there is a spiritual plane that sometimes crosses over into our world. I don't know how or why, but I can't discount the possibilities.

Have you ever had any encounters with ghosts or spirits? Do you believe in the possibility of their existence?

I'm starting a new series on my blog with stories of ghosts, hauntings, and mysterious happenings. Click here to read about the Martha's Vineyard Ghost Ship, which was found in 1804 on the shores of Aquinnah.


  1. Wow reading about your experiences gave me the chills. And yep, I have had some experiences with ghosts.

  2. Terrifying to think the demons start visiting early.

  3. Oh my, that is too weird! His own evilness haunting him?

    I don't like ghosts, (I scare too easily) although I do enjoy a good ghost story.

    I'm looking forward to your book!

  4. I've always believed in ghosts, so--needless to say--I agree that instances like this aren't simply hallucinations all the time!

  5. Happy to have found your blog! Misha pointed me in your direction :). Yes, I do believe in ghosts and in demons and I do believe they are separate entities. I've had experiences with both and can definitely tell the different.

    What a neat new project! I delight in collecting ghost stories! I will definitely be visiting again!

    New follower :)

  6. What interesting experiences, Julie. I've watched a lot of Ghost Adventures and TAPS, and I've seen one ghost. The world is so strange and wonderful. Can't wait to read your new book!

  7. Wow! What cool experiences!

    I've had supernatural/paranormal experiences before. They really can't be explained. They're definitely a tad creepy.

  8. Wonderful post. That would be so cool to experience. I've always been fascinated with ghosts and what lies beyond, but I've not had any experiences myself. I've sought them out, but perhaps I'm not sensitive to such things.

  9. Wow... definitely had the chills reading this. I don't know that I'm a believer or non-believer.. but when so many people report similar experiences who am I to disagree? lol.... I think this is a mysterious world and I'm pretty sure many things are beyond our understanding and therefore possible.

  10. I am uncertain as to whether I believe in ghosts-- I have never seen one-- but I do recall that, before my sister's wedding, my father (a scientist and college graduate) took us all to the cemetery, so that he could "invite" his deceased parents to the wedding. I was 17 at the time, and remember feeling distinctly uncomfortable, tho' my grandparents were certainly harmless, and had passed after long and fulfilling lives. This was not an unusual custom, back in the day (1960s).

  11. @Misha, I'd love to hear about your experiences! And to be honest it gave me chills to remember this again.

    @Alex, isn't it?

    @Yolanda, thank you!! I scare easily too but for some reason I have always just loved ghost stories.

    @Heather, we are in agreement then. :)

    @Jen, thank you, it's so nice to meet you! Will be checking out your blog, thanks so much.

    @Mary, hospice wasn't something I could handle long-term but I'm so glad I worked there, I learned so much and it was an amazing experience. Thanks so much!

    @Cherie, creepy for sure LOL.

    @Christine, this was the only time I ever had an experience like this. Probably for the best LOL.

    @SK, that's how I see it. I don't know but I can't discount it either.

    @David, wow, that's so interesting! I've never heard of that custom before. I think I would have felt uncomfortable too.

  12. I do know there are things around us that we can't see, but I don't like to think about the baddies.

  13. He was terrified. I wonder what he saw? Did he describe them?

    I believe he did see something.
    *bookmarking this site*

  14. @CC, thanks for bookmarking us! He didn't describe whatever was frightening him, no. I believe he did too!

  15. You've had some interesting experiences. Thanks for sharing them.

  16. I agree- this gave me the chills. I kept thinking of that scene from the movie Ghost where the bad guy gets it and the shadows peel off the wall and rag him, screaming, to hell. Boy could my imagination take that and run with it!

  17. @Natalie, thank you for reading!

    @Beverly, that's the same thing I thought about! It really was scary.

  18. Your hospice story is fascinating! I've heard many a tale about these types of things and I am a believer. Good luck with getting your novel out into the world.

  19. My mind is certainly open to the possibility of the existence of ghosts. As a young girl, on the night my grandmother died, I "think" I saw her sitting in the chair beside my bed, watching me. There have been other instances over the years, but the one most startling happened after a dear friend died. He and his wife, my hubby and I had been practically inseparable. A month or so after he'd died, his widow and I were sitting side by side on the step leading from our kitchen to the den, while my hubby took his shot on the pool table. At the same time, she and I turned around toward the kitchen, because we BOTH felt a hand on our shoulder. Still creeps me out a little, but it also comforts me.

  20. I remember my grandmother telling me about seeing her mother at the window beckoning her. That was three days before her death...

    Thanks for sharing your story, Julie.

    Mary Montague Sikes

  21. I've experienced similar moments with my mother and sister before they died.

  22. Yep, ghosts exist. I grew up with one in the house, lol.

  23. @Catherine, thank you!

    @Susan, oh my gosh, that's an amazing story. I can imagine it was both comforting and creepy.

    @Mary, that's exactly how it was with our patients. Amazing.

    @Peaches, oh, I'm very sorry for your losses.

    @Lynda, LOL, I'd love to read about your house ghost. I think there was one in my sister's old house too. :)

  24. This was beautiful and eerie all at the same time. Wow. Captivating.

  25. Spooky stuff! I've had a few eerie instances where I've felt things - always on the positive side, thank goodness! :)

  26. @Optimistic, I'm so glad you enjoyed the post, thank you!

    @Nicole, I'm glad it's all been positive! :)


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