Statistics vary, but up to about half the American population believes in ghosts – or at the very least, the possibility that they exist.
- A CBS poll in 2005 found that 48% of those asked said that they believe in ghosts and 45% said they didn’t. The same query revealed that 56% of women did believe in them. Surprisingly, 22% of those polled (not just of the set that believe) said that they had personally seen or felt a ghost. That’s huge!
- A Pew Research poll in 2009 found smaller numbers but that 18% felt that they had had some sort of experience with a deceased person.
- Scientific American calls these “grief hallucinations” and states that 80% of the elderly have them within a month of the passing of a close loved one. This is, of course, a surprising conclusion that the otherwise very respectable magazine failed to prove, but instead merely asserted.
Whether real experiences of the dead or, as Scientific American unscientifically claims, why is it that so few people ever talk about it?
No one wants to be labeled as crazy, nuts or disturbed. In casual conversation, friends and relatives (even if they believe and have experienced something themselves) are never going to ask, “so have you seen a ghost or felt the presence of a deceased loved one recently?” So it’s a self-imposed “don’t ask, don’t tell”.
How do you get past that so that people will share with you?
But, if for some reason they are made to feel safe in discussing it – say, if you verbally open that door – you might be surprised at the outpouring of stories. I get them all the time, often weekly. People I don’t know will call or email me about their experience because with this blog they know that they will gain a receptive ear.
You can also find a MeetUp group in your area for ghost hunters. Most of them will have a very good, personal, compelling reason for being there. And they won’t be nervous about sharing their experiences with you, either.
So if in this Halloween season you want to hear some “real ghost stories”, be daring and bring the subject up or put. Don’t make a verbal avalanche of it, but warm up to the topic a little. “This is a really interesting old house. Are there any stories associated with it?” Or volunteer something true in your own life, like “after my pet died, I really felt her presence for awhile afterward…” Or even, “my relative said that after his wife died…” The more closely it’s connected to you, personally, the safer it will be for others to share their stories and experiences with you in turn.
Yes, some people will think you are a little off but most likely you will find someone out there with a story that he or she is just dying to tell. So to speak.
Gil Gross, who hosts the afternoon radio program from 2 – 4 on San Francisco’s KGO Radio, had a change of conversational direction today. While discussing and listening to stories about the multiple, devastating tragedies on Sept. 11th 2001, one of Gil’s callers (a widow from that day) relayed having an experience after the death of her husband that convinced her that he was sending her a message of hope. It was a very moving call, and Gil invited others to share any similar experiences.
And they did.
It’s really not often that mainstream radio or other media will be open to this type of conversation, unless it’s at Halloween (and then there are a lot of giggles). Instead, this was a very serious sharing by all kinds of listeners, many of them skeptics themselves until they’d had some sort of experience of a loved one after death.
Although my radio track record is pretty much limited to having been a college DJ at a small school in Spokane (Gonzaga U “KZAG, the voice of Gonzaga”), I do know that radio personalities and their producers do not want to risk offending people (and their advertising dollars) and they don’t want to cause eye-rolling and dial switching. So it’s a bit gutsy for Gil and his producer to just go with the flow today and encourage & take those calls.
Not only that, but it was handled very well, in a very supportive way that was neither sappy nor skeptical, but open and intelligent. I don’t think that Gil could have done a better job with this highly sensitive topic on an emotion-charged day.
The synopsis of today’s program really does not do it (or Gil) justice as it not only sidesteps this very interesting segment of today’s show, but actually fails to mention it at all. I wouldn’t say that this element was so important that it overshadowed weighty interviews or the more “meaty” element of talk radio, but it was a dimension seldom broached and it should have been noted in the synopsis.
That’s OK, we’re mentioning it here. Kudos to Gil and to his producer too (my apologies, but I didn’t see the name of that producer online). Want to hear the pocast? It’s online – enjoy!