Is it a bit unusual to have a conversation with a deceased loved one? Do many people do this? And is there any benefit in such an action? What will my friends think if they find out? These questions are not uncommon in the thoughts of those mourning the death of a loved one.

Briefly, talking to someone who has died is common for many. There are a considerable number of people who pray and talk with their deceased loved ones on a regular basis. And no, it’s nothing unusual as the practice has a long history. In fact, some Christian denominations believe in the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. This involves the belief that deceased loved ones in heaven can intercede with God for those on earth.

As for your friends and what they might think, I’d suggest that’s the least to worry about. That’s their problem, not yours. Of course, you don’t have to tell them anyway. I say all this because I encourage most people in my support groups to talk to their loved one when they feel it is necessary. Because? Because it’s obviously very beneficial. Here are seven reasons why the practice is helpful in dealing with the transition.

1. Provides comfort in transition. For many people who talk to their deceased loved one, the action itself is comforting. They are doing something that eases the burden of accepting the fact that the loved one is not physically present.

2. Gives motivation to work to adapt to a new world. Having a real or imagined conversation with a loved one, when dealing with a massive change, can provide an extra boost in dealing with a difficult issue. If you think your loved one can hear you, ask for help in addressing the problem – see what comes to mind after you ask a question. If you don’t think your conversation is being heard, but are simply using your imagination, then after asking a question, imagine what your loved one might say in response.

3. It is a way of showing love in separation. Talking aloud or silently with your loved one is another example of loving in separation through remembrance. He/she is always a thought away in your heart and may well be an important way for you to remind yourself that love never dies and you will always have a relationship even if you are apart. There is nothing wrong with honoring the dead every day in this way, if you wish.

4. It can be used as a wake-up ritual. Rituals, whether formal or informal, can provide an important way to establish priorities or new routines in coping with loss. They are also a way to honor the deceased. Starting the day, as many survivors do, with greetings or memories of the deceased before entering the hustle and bustle of the day, is a hopeful way to start the day.

5. It is an effective emotional release. Many widows talk to their deceased husbands to express feelings. This action is not only mentally and physically appropriate, but allows for a freedom of expression not often found when interacting with others. “It makes me feel like he’s still around,” said one mourner.

6. It can build confidence. “I feel better,” said one woman after speaking with her deceased loved one. Others suggest that a chat can lessen the feeling of being alone. Still others use a conversation to ask for a sign that the loved one is okay in another existence.

7. It gives peace to be able to tell a loved one when something happens. When living alone, many widows talk with their deceased loved one, especially at night when they need company. Do what you are comfortable with and that gives you peace of mind, which is an important factor when evaluating mystery awareness and use in a world steeped in “seeing is believing.”

Just because we live in a world designed to keep the spiritual and soulful on the periphery doesn’t mean we can’t wisely choose to talk to a deceased loved one. There is nothing unusual in doing it. Obviously it is very useful and empowering for millions. And nobody can explain how this interaction can work, and it is not necessary to have an explanation.

We know that spiritual traditions around the world suggest praying to deceased loved ones. Best-selling author Thomas Moore insightfully recalls part of her mother’s legacy: “My mother honored the dead and communicated with her ancestors constantly. She taught me this piece of practical mystical theology and I will continue to follow her path.

Depending on your belief system, incorporate conversations with your loved one as a way to cope with your loss and reinvest in life. As one woman who was engaged to be married recently told me: “It’s been over eight years and I still talk to him [her first husband]. I tell her to go out and help our son.” This woman is as down to earth as anyone you would want to meet and has learned to incorporate non-physical reality into her lifestyle. You can too and live life more fully.

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